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World Leaders Converge at Florida Atlantic’s Inaugural Mindfest
World Leaders Converge Inaugural Mindfest

By Polly Burks

Florida Atlantic’s inaugural Mindfest conference in 2023 attracted more than 100 leaders in artificial intelligence, philosophy and neuroscience to the university’s Boca Raton campus.

This annual conference, sponsored by the Center for the Future Mind and the Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute, is now looked to as a place where world-renowned thought leaders bring important conversations to the public and the media.

The 2023 conference began with a reflection on how Indian philosophy illuminates the study of consciousness. Anand Vaidya, Ph.D., director of the Center for Comparative Philosophy, San Jose State University, shared how the concepts of consciousness can be expanded through analytic philosophy. This was followed by a panel on the puzzling nature of “Conscious Experience in Nonlinguistic Entities” with Claudia Passos-Ferreira, Ph.D., assistant professor of bioethics, New York University, Carlos Montemayor, Ph.D., professor of philosophy, San Francisco State University, and Garrett Mindt, Ph.D., assistant professor, Florida Atlantic’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters.

In addition, center member Stephen Wolfram, Ph.D., CEO of Wolfram Research, discussed the development of large language models such as ChatGPT, and Ben Goertzel, Ph.D., CEO and founder of SingularityNet, spoke on “Three Viable Paths to True Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).”

Day two of the conference continued with a focus on global intelligence, machine consciousness and virtual worlds. Speakers explored the internet as a form of intelligence, consisting of various sophisticated chatbots and search engines fueled by large language models and other AI services (e.g., Gmail, Wikipedia). Participants then discussed the possibility of chatbot sentience and the recent controversy concerning both Google’s LaMDA system and ChatGPT (on Microsoft’s browser) possibly being sentient, together with the increasing ability of large language models like ChatGPT and Google’s largest model, PaLM, to converse.

In a keynote, philosopher David Chalmers, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and neural science, New York University, discussed his recent book: “Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy.”

The second annual Mindfest conference debuted in February 2024 with the theme digital physics, chatbot epistemology and the future of AGI. Keynote speakers included Chalmers and others.

For more information on Florida Atlantic’s Center for Future Mind, visit fau.edu/future-mind.

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