Computational Limits to Human Thinking in a Society With Too Much Information And Too Little Time


February 4, 2015


Raj Reddy


Carnegie Mellon University


This talk is about Computational Limits to Human Thinking. Human beings make errors, tend to forget, are impatient and look for least effort solutions. Such limitations, sometimes, lead to catastrophic results. At the same time, humans learn with experience, tolerate error and ambiguity, use vast amounts knowledge, and communicate using speech and language. Such features are still lacking in most of our systems. Most systems don’t get better with experience. We cannot even send routine voice emails and video emails without using Skype or some such.

Most importantly, we are severely lacking in tools for coping with 21st century world of “too much information and too little time”. In this talk we will present two families of intelligent agents, viz., “cognition amplifiers” and “guardian angels” to help with problem of scarcity of attention. A Cognition Amplifier is a personal autonomic intelligent agent that anticipates what you want to do and helps you to do it with less effort. A Guardian Angel is a personal autonomic intelligent agent that discovers and warns you about unanticipated, possibly catastrophic, events that could impact your safety, security, and wellbeing. Both Cogs and Gats are enduring, autonomic, nonintrusive intelligent agents which are always-on, always working, and always-learning. It is anticipated that future “Steve Jobs” will emerge from those who are passionate about such human needs and understand human limitations.


Raj Reddy

Raj Reddy is the Moza Bint Nasser University Professor of Computer Science and Robotics in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He is one of the early pioneers of Artificial Intelligence, has served on the faculty of Stanford and Carnegie Mellon University for over 40 years and was the Founding Director of the Robotics Institute at CMU. Dr. Reddy received the ACM Turing Award in 1994 for his contributions to Artificial Intelligence. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by President Mitterrand of France in 1984 and the Padma Bhushan by the President of India in 2001. He was awarded the Okawa Prize in 2004, the Honda Prize in 2005, and the Vannevar Bush Award in 2006. He served as co-chair of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) from 1999 to 2001. He has been awarded eleven honorary doctorates (Doctor Honoris Causa) including Universities of Henri-Poincare, New South Wales, Massachusetts, Warwick, and HKUST.