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The Philosophy of Deep Learning Conference

March 24, 2023 - March 26, 2023


The conference will explore current issues in AI research from a philosophical perspective, with particular attention to recent work on deep artificial neural networks. The goal is to bring together philosophers and scientists who are thinking about these systems in order to gain a better understanding of their capacities, their limitations, and their relationship to human cognition. The conference will focus especially on topics in the philosophy of cognitive science (rather than on topics in AI ethics and safety). It will explore questions such as:

What cognitive capacities, if any, do current deep learning systems possess?

What cognitive capacities might future deep learning systems possess?

What kind of representations can we ascribe to artificial neural networks?

Could a large language model genuinely understand language?

What do deep learning systems tell us about human cognition and vice versa?

How can we develop a theoretical understanding of deep learning systems?

How do deep learning systems bear on philosophical debates such as rationalism vs empiricism and classical vs. nonclassical views of cognition?

What are the key obstacles on the path from current deep learning systems to human-level cognition?

Event Speakers

Cameron Buckner, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Houston

Rosa Cao, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Stanford University

Ishita Dasgupta, Research Scientist, DeepMind

Nikolaus Kriegeskorte, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Columbia University

Brenden Lake, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Data Science, New York University

Grace Lindsay, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Data Science, New York University

Tal Linzen, Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Data Science, New York University

Raphaël Millière, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Columbia University

Nicholas Shea, Professor of Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy, University of London


A pre-conference debate on March 24 will address whether large language models need sensory grounding for meaning and understanding. Speakers include:

Jacob Browning, Postdoctoral Associate, New York University

David Chalmers, University Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science, New York University

Yann LeCun, Silver Professor of Data Science, Computer Science, Neural Science, and Electrical Engineering, New York University

Ellie Pavlick, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Brown University

Event Information

Free and open to the public. Registration is required via Eventbrite. All in-person attendees must follow New York University’s COVID-19 policies. NYU requires that you be able to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, including one booster, if asked. You must register at least 24 hours in advance so that your name/email address can be sponsored in the NYU system. You will need to show proof of government ID to a security guard.

This event is co-organized by Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience at Columbia University as part of the Seminars in Society and Neuroscience series and by the Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness at New York University.

The Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness at New York University provides reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities. Requests for accommodations should be submitted to philosophy@nyu.edu at least two weeks before the event.




March 24, 2023
March 26, 2023