On November 23, Professor Dong Chunyu was invited to give an online lecture entitled “Opacity in Machine Cognition and Significance”. Dong is a professor of the Department of Philosophy at Beijing Normal University, as well as the executive director of the Chinese Society for Dialectics of Nature. Professor Yao Guohong, the vice dean of the School of Public Administration hosted the meeting. Over 300 teachers and students in this field from different universities attended the lecture.
Professor Dong first introduced the contemporary development of AI and robots, quoting the second AI Nobel Prize recently issued by the world's largest artificial intelligence association AAAI. He then illustrated Kurzweil’s Singularity concept by citing Machine Beauty, a movie expressing human anxiety about the future of AI.
Later, Professor Dong focused on “Transparency of cognition”, the key issue of the lecture. Through the examples of Napoleon's empire and coin tossing, he explained that if we understand or grasp all the details of movement changes, then our cognition is transparent, which means there is comprehensibility and certainty in the epistemological sense. Professor Dong referred to the debate of the “Opacity of cognition” in the field of Philosophy of Mind and Anti-computationalism. And he concluded his lecture by giving the reason for opacity, that is, the unexplainability of the algorithm resulting from the sudden change of calculation results in the black box of logic algorithm.
In summary, Professor Dong talked about the interpretability and limitation of AI from two dimensions of ontology and epistemology. He emphasized that overcoming the opacity of knowledge and finally obtaining causality from the correlation is the most important, although the correlation between things is easier to be found in the context of big data and AI.
The audience responded passionately to Professor Dong’s lecture and there was a heated discussion.