Conference Newsletter
Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century:
Thinking Machines in the Physical World

October 2015: Introducing the Conference CFP

Following the success of the inaugural “Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century” conference in 2014 (Boston), we are delighted to release the CFP for the second 21CW event, to take place from 13-15 July 2016, at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
The 2016 conference theme, “Thinking Machines in the Physical World,” invites cross-disciplinary conversations about the opportunities and threats presented by advances in cognitive computing: What concrete, real-world possibilities does intelligence-focused technology open up? What potential effects will “smart computers” exert on labor and jobs around the globe? What are the broader social implications of these changes?
We invite you to check out the CFP and visit the conference website. In addition, join our mailing list to receive monthly conference newsletters that feature:

  • Interviews with confirmed keynotes Prof. Thomas Kailath (Stanford University), Prof. Brian Anderson (ANU), Dr. James Hughes (Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies), and the IBM Watson team
  • Details about the conference location, venue, special events, and excursions
  • Important reminders as we continue along the Conference Count-Down
  • Recent media stories and scholarly articles related to Norbert Wiener and “Thinking Machines”

We look forward to seeing you in Melbourne in July 2016!

October Conference Count-Down: 

1.5 months: Special Session Proposal Deadline (1 December 2016)
4 months: Paper or Abstract Submission Deadline (14 February 2016)
5 months: Confirmation of Acceptance (14 March 2016)
6.5 months: Complete Papers Due (30 April 2016)
9 months: Conference Kick-Off (13 July 2016)
"Digital Humanities": As part of the "Big Ideas" program (Radio National, Australian Broadcasting Corporation), Paul Barclay presents a discussion of a research field that has emerged at "the intersection of computing and the humanities ... called 'Digital Humanities.'" "This academic discipline embraces a variety of topics, from curating online collections to data mining large cultural data sets." On the program, "Willard McCarty from King's College London explains two specific features of digital humanities; modelling and simulation. If modelling, so he says, is what we do  but mostly don't know that we do, simulation is what we could do but mostly haven't begun to do." (Image: / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)
"Two Paths Toward our Robot Future": In this New Yorker article, Mark O'Connell discusses John Markoff's new book Machines of Loving Grace: the Quest for Common Ground between Humans and Robots. As O'Connell explains, "Markoff invokes Norbert Wiener [as] ... a speaker of unpalatable truths about the potential consequences of technology’s ascent. He warned that automation could reduce the value of a “routine” factory employee to the point that “he is not worth hiring at any price,” and that we might therefore be “in for an industrial revolution of unmitigated cruelty.” In the past, it has overwhelmingly been blue-collar workers whose jobs have been at risk from the mechanization of labor; the progress of artificial intelligence now is such that the intellectual labor of the white-collar professions will soon be equally under threat from intelligent, or at least competent, software." (Image: London Express/Getty)
Mark Zuckerberg and the End of Language: In this article from The Atlantic, William Davies explores the cybernetics roots of a new push to develop wearable "affective computing technologies," which remove communication from the realm of language and instead promise access to "'real' emotions and 'real' desires, accompanied by ways of transmitting these via non-verbal codes." "In the legacy of the cyberneticians," Davies argues, "the purveyors of 'smart' technologies promise a form of perfectly predictable interaction between individual and environment, in which nothing needs to be said along the way." (Image: Robert Galbraith/Reuters)
This is one of a series of Conference newsletters. 
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