David Chalmers: Does Generative AI Extend the Mind?

PLENARY SESSION 4 | Wednesday August 21, 17:00-18:15 | Auditorium 1 (1441-011)


Prof. Chalmers is an Australian philosopher and cognitive scientist specializing in the areas of the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. He is a professor of philosophy and neural science at New York University (NYU) as well as co-director of NYU's Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness. He is  elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.  Prof. Chalmers  is  known worldwide, also outside of philosophy, for his contributions to consciousness research in The Character of Consciousness (2010), and in particular for identifying more clearly than anyone the tasks for a philosophical account of consciousness ("the hard problem" of consciousness). Since recent advances in AI bring Chalmers' thought experiment of "philosophical zombies" closer to reality, in his current research he combines philosophy and a longstanding interest in AI for the exploration of the status of virtual reality (Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy (2022)) and the likelihood of creating artificial systems that fulfil the criteria of consciousness.

Abstract of lecture

I'll discuss whether and under what circumstances large language models and other generative AI systems can serve as extensions of the human mind.

Plenary dialogue

Professor Chalmers will deliver his lecture remotely; then he will engage in a live dialogue with two interlocutors, before addressing questions from the audience.  The dialogue is moderated by Anna Strasser.

Interlocutor 1: Susanna Schellenberg, Rutgers University, USA

Susanna Schellenberg is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at Rutgers University. Currently, she is working on issues at the intersection of AI, neuroscience, and philosophy. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim, a Humboldt prize, a NEH fellowship, and a Mellon New Directions Fellowship. In a series of papers culminating in her book The Unity of Perception: Content, Consciousness, Evidence (Oxford University Press, 2018), she has developed an integrated theory of perception that is sensitive to evidence from neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and psychophysics. In addition to perception, the topics she has tackled include consciousness, evidence, cognitive capacities, representations, and imagination.

Interlocutor 2: Eric Schwitzgebel, University of California at Riverside, USA

Eric Schwitzgebel is professor of philosophy at UC Riverside. His main interests include connections between philosophy of mind and empirical psychology, with focus on consciousness and the nature of belief.  He has published widely and is well-known as author of the blog The Splintered Mind, which he has run since 2006.  Among his book publications are The Perplexities of Consciousness (2011) and The Weirdness of the World (Princeton University Press, 2024), which also addresses the nature of consciousness and the prospects of metaphysics.