Stanford University

Symbolic Systems Distinguished Speakers

Since 1991, the Symbolic Systems Program has annually hosted special lectures by speakers who have made distinguished contributions to the theory or applications of symbolic systems.

Previous Distinguished Speakers have been:

1991 Daniel Dennett "Time and the Brain: Escape from the Theater of Consciousness"
1992 Douglas Hofstadter "Errors as Clues to the Nature of Symbols in the Head"
1993 Patricia Churchland "Exploring the Neurobiology of Consciousness"
1994 Donald Norman "Applying Cognitive Science"
1995 Rodney A. Brooks "Non-Symbolic Approaches to Intelligence"
1996 John Searle "Consciousness and Cognitive Science"
1997 Jaron Lanier "Post-Symbolic Systems"
1998 Steven Pinker "Words and Rules"
1999 Michael Tanenhaus "Using Eye Movements to Study Real-Time Spoken Language Comprehension"
2000 Doug Engelbart and Steven Johnson "Augmenting the Human Intellect" (delivered Nov. 1999)
2001 Daniel Dennett "Are We Explaining Consciousness Yet?"
2002 Stephen Wolfram "A New Kind of Science" (delivered Feb. 2003)
2003 Ray Jackendoff "Conscious and Unconscious Aspects of Language Structure"
2004 Daniel Kahneman "Perception, Intuition, and Reason"
2005 Michael Gazzaniga "Distributed Systems and Conscious Unity"
2006 Nick Bostrom "Are You Living in a Simulation?"
2007 Elizabeth Loftus "What's the Matter with Memory?"
2008 Ben Shneiderman "Information Visualization for Insight and Communication"
2009 Margaret Boden "Creativity and Computers"
2010 Geoffrey Nunberg "How the Language of Politics is Different"
2011 Vilayanur S. Ramachandran "From Molecules to Metaphor: What Neurology Can Tell Us of Human Nature"
2012 Marvin Minsky

"The Challenges of Artificial Intelligence" (in conversation with Ken Taylor)

2013 Alison Gopnik

"Why children are better (or at least more open-minded) scientists than adults are: Causation, computation and learning"

2014 Douglas Hofstadter  "The Nature of Categories and Concepts"
2015 Edward Snowden

"The Ethics of Whistleblowing in the Age of Information"

2016  Eliezer Yudkowsky "The AI Alignment Problem: Why it's hard, and where to start"
2017 David Chalmers "The Virtual and the Real: Philosophical Issues about Virtual Reality"
2019 Maryanne Wolf "The Reading Brain, Critical Thought, and Empathy in a Digital Culture"
2019 Daniel Ellsberg "The Doomsday Doctrine": A Live Philosophy Talk Event (with Ken Taylor and John Perry)
2020 Ted Chiang "Magic Versus Imaginary Science"
2021 Lera Boroditsky "How Language Shapes Thinking"
2022 Nancy Kanwisher "Functional Imaging of the Human Brain: A Window into the Architecture of the Mind"