Introducing Minds, Brains, & Machines: A Step Toward Understanding Intelligence

How can we truly understand intelligence? It’s a challenge that requires a multidisciplinary approach, one with a particular focus on computation. Minds, Brains, & Machines (MBM), a new NYU initiative, seeks to do its part in answering this question by asking two more: how can advances in machine intelligence best advance our understanding of natural (human and animal) intelligence? And how can we best use insights from natural intelligence to develop new, more powerful machine intelligence technologies that more fruitfully interact with us?

The project, currently led by CDS Assistant Professor of Psychology and Data Science Brenden Lake and Professor of Psychology (and CDS affiliated professor) Todd Gureckis, was initiated by Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean, Antonio Merlo via the Big Questions Series, a FAS-wide conference on the relationship between human and machine intelligence.

MBM has several current priorities, most notably a hiring cluster in collaboration with several academic departments: CDS, The NYU Department of Psychology, the Center for Neural Science, and the Flatiron Institute. The cluster includes the Assistant Professor of Psychology and Data Science position, a joint role with CDS and the Department of Psychology, which is in progress It also includes the CDS Faculty Fellows positions — applicants should apply by December 22, 2021 for full consideration.

In addition to hiring, MBM also offers the Robert J. Glushko Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Honors Thesis. The Glushko Prize, made possible by a generous donation from Robert Glushko, is awarded annually to an NYU student who has demonstrated an Honors thesis in computational cognitive science or relevant discipline that explores the intersection of human and machine intelligence. The recipient receives a monetary prize of $500 and is recognized at their department’s Undergraduate Honors Ceremony in the Spring. (Stay tuned for the submission deadline and details.)

Last, but certainly not least, MBM held a colloquium series in the Fall 2021 semester, featuring exciting and relevant work from DeepMind research scientists Kelsey Allen and Ishita Dasgupta.

For more information on Minds, Brains, & Machines, please visit the MBM website. To find out more about open positions at CDS, please visit our Faculty Positions and Faculty Fellows Positions pages.

By Ashley C. McDonald