Artificial intelligence expert to speak at WCSU

DANBURY, CONN. — The Western Connecticut State University Department of Philosophy and Humanistic Studies will present Dr. Rick Lawrence for a discussion, “On the Convergence of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence,” at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, in the Ballroom of the Campus Center on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. The talk is free and open to the public.

WCSU Adjunct Instructor of Philosophy Greg Lew, who teaches “Artificial Intelligence: Minds and Machines,” explained the relationship between AI and philosophy. “This course brings together philosophy of mind and cognitive science in an attempt to address conceptual issues surrounding AI, such as whether machines are ever likely to exceed human intelligence, how they might be granted legal rights and what impact the new generation of learning, flexible robots may have on labor markets and income inequality,” Lew said. “Since Dr. Lawrence’s research focuses on the development of intelligent learning machines, students will have valuable access to the information about the current trends in this field.”

Lawrence previously served as a distinguished research staff member and senior manager for machine learning and decision analytics within the Cognitive Computing organization at IBM Research. In that capacity, he worked closely with the IBM Watson Group in developing new techniques to accelerate learning capabilities for machine response to questions that cannot be answered by a simple fact.

He is president of PCIX Inc., a stealth New York startup that uses statistical analysis to “facilitate improved financial returns through machine learning,” according to the company’s website. Lawrence has published more than 100 papers and led the Neutronics Methods Group in the applied statistics division of the Argonne National Laboratory. Lawrence received his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and his doctorate in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Illinois.

Lawrence has received the Knowledge, Discovery and Data Mining Best Paper Award and the 2014 INFORMS Award for Innovative Applications in Analytics for his work with UNICEF in Uganda on a system that was trained to understand the content of text messages and analyze data faster and with more accuracy. The program allows the government to translate messages, respond quickly and make decisions about when and where to dispatch resources in times of need.

For more information, email Associate Professor of Philosophy and Humanistic Studies Dr. Stuart Dalton at




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