CANCELLED | Conable Lecture: What is Intelligence

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AI image for background with text regarding the event and an image of the presenter

As RIT prioritizes engagement with innovating in the space of AI - broadly defined - while also critically engaging with what AI means for higher education in the near and long term, this panel brings together a diverse group of scholars interested in questions about cognition, questions about responsible uses of AI and the role of AI in the classroom to ask a basic question: What is intelligence?

To ask a question like this is to be curious about the assumptions we all make about intelligence as this informs the way that AI technologies develop - as human created technologies. What has become obvious are the ways that AI often reproduces human biases around race, gender and even the nature of humanness.

Dr. Anna Corwin will ground our discussion in her novel approach to intelligence as a linguistic anthropologist. She will introduce her ethnographic project on spiritual intelligences and how they interactively arise, funded by the Templeton Foundation through the Diverse Intelligences project. 

Her talk, titled “Decolonizing Intelligences: A Proposed Framework to Disentangle the Psychological Study of Spiritual Intelligences from Colonial Legacies,” will guide us through the inception of intelligence as a colonial scientific object. This topic is especially important for an anthropologist to lead on because of the role anthropology has played in these early models of intelligences based on faulty (and ultimately dangerous) race science.

After her talk, we will discuss as a panel the broader question - “What is Intelligence?” with contributions from:

Irina Mikhalevich (Assistant Professor, Philosophy, College of Liberal Arts) brings expertise in the
philosophy of cognitive sciences centering on nonhuman animal and AI intelligence(s). She explores
questions of how mind is distributed in nature and whether it may be extended beyond it.

Esa Rantanen (Associate Professor, Psychology, College of Liberal Arts) is an engineering psychologist who works to represent and advocate for the human in socio-technical systems. To plot the course forward for human factors in the age of AI, he asks fundamental questions about the relationships between people and technology, which go far beyond mere usability and user experience. Such questions would shift the focus in human factors to the human, away from factors, for example: What is a human? What is the ultimate purpose of a human?

Liz Lawley (Professor, School of Interactive Games and Media, Golisano College of Computing and
Information Sciences) research interests include the intersection of games and tourism, and the evaluation and dissemination of creative scholarly work.

Jessica Hardin
Event Snapshot
When and Where
November 10, 2023
11:15 am - 12:45 pm
Room/Location: McKenzie Commons

Open to the Public

Interpreter Requested?


artificial intelligence
games, film, and digital media
global engagement