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Distinguished Speakers Series

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:

YearDistinguished SpeakerLecture Title
1991Daniel Dennett"Time and the Brain: Escape from the Theater of Consciousness"
1992Douglas Hofstadter"Errors as Clues to the Nature of Symbols in the Head"
1993Patricia Churchland"Exploring the Neurobiology of Consciousness"
1994Donald Norman"Applying Cognitive Science"
1995Rodney A. Brooks"Non-Symbolic Approaches to Intelligence"
1996John Searle"Consciousness and Cognitive Science"
1997Jaron Lanier"Post-Symbolic Systems"
1998Steven Pinker"Words and Rules"
1999Michael Tanenhaus"Using Eye Movements to Study Real-Time Spoken Language Comprehension"
2000Doug Engelbart and Steven Johnson"Augmenting the Human Intellect" (delivered Nov. 1999)
2001Daniel Dennett"Are We Explaining Consciousness Yet?"
2002Stephen Wolfram"A New Kind of Science" (delivered Feb. 2003)
2003Ray Jackendoff"Conscious and Unconscious Aspects of Language Structure"
2004Daniel Kahneman"Perception, Intuition, and Reason"
2005Michael Gazzaniga"Distributed Systems and Conscious Unity"
2006Nick Bostrom"Are You Living in a Simulation?"
2007Elizabeth Loftus"What's the Matter with Memory?"
2008Ben Shneiderman"Information Visualization for Insight and Communication"
2009Margaret Boden"Creativity and Computers"
2010Geoffrey Nunberg"How the Language of Politics is Different"
2011Vilayanur S. Ramachandran"From Molecules to Metaphor: What Neurology Can Tell Us of Human Nature"
2012Marvin Minsky"The Challenges of Artificial Intelligence" (in conversation with Ken Taylor)
2013Alison Gopnik"Why children are better (or at least more open-minded) scientists than adults are: Causation, computation and learning"
2014Douglas Hofstadter "The Nature of Categories and Concepts"
2015Edward 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"
2017David Chalmers"The Virtual and the Real: Philosophical Issues about Virtual Reality"
2019Maryanne Wolf"The Reading Brain, Critical Thought, and Empathy in a Digital Culture"
2019Daniel Ellsberg"The Doomsday Doctrine": A Live Philosophy Talk Event (with Ken Taylor and John Perry)
2020Ted Chiang"Magic Versus Imaginary Science"
2021Lera Boroditsky"How Language Shapes Thinking"
2022Nancy Kanwisher"Functional Imaging of the Human Brain: A Window into the Architecture of the Mind"
2023Timnit Gebru"Independent Community Rooted Research"
2024Ken LiuThe Artistic Machine: What Can the Camera in the 19th Century Tell Us About the Future of AI and Creativity?

Past Events

Thursday, April 11, 2024
John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Rotunda
290 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Building 420, Room 040 (Lower Level)
Stanford University
Friday, May 27, 2022
In person event (for current Stanford affiliates only):
John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Rotunda
Stanford Neurosciences Building (290 Jane Stanford Way)

Remote simulcast open to all by Zoom
Thursday, April 22, 2021
Zoom meeting
Thursday, June 4, 2020
Online Event