TU Wien Informatics

Edward A. Lee: “Limits of Machines, Limits of Humans”

  • 2022-05-24
  • Public Lecture
  • Event

Edward A. Lee, distinguished computer scientist and expert on societal implications of technology, talks about the limits of explainable AI.

Edward A. Lee
Edward A. Lee

  • TU Wien, Campus Getreidemarkt
    Konferenzsaal TUtheSky
  • 1060 Vienna, Getreidemarkt 9
    Bauteil BA (Hoftrakt), 11. Stock, Raum BA11B07
  • This is a hybrid event.
    See description for details.

Live Stream

Join the live stream on YouTube.
Watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/c3Cwu1BJVPs


To advance the interdisciplinary dialogue between informatics, humanities, and politics, TU Wien Informatics, the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Energy, Mobility, Innovation, and Technology (BMK), TU Wien Informatics Doctoral School and the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (CAIML) cooperate within Digital Humanism Initiatives.

Digital Humanism is at the forefront of current debates concerning human-technology interaction. In March 2022, TU Wien Informatics, the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (CAIML), and IWM launched the Digital Humanism Fellowship to foster academic exchange across disciplines and institutional boundaries. The first Senior Fellow and visiting professor at TU Wien Informatics is Edward A. Lee, Robert S. Pepper Distinguished Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) at the University of California at Berkeley.

Welcome Address

  • Gerti Kappel, Dean of TU Wien Informatics
  • Michael Wiesmüller, Head of the Department for Key Enabling Technologies in Industrial Innovation at BMK

Introduction to the Digital Humanism Fellowship Program

  • Ludger Hagedorn, IWM Permanent Fellow

Public Lecture “Limits of Machines, Limits of Humans”

  • Edward A. Lee, Robert S. Pepper Distinguished Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) at UC Berkeley, Guest professor at TU Wien Informatics, Senior Fellow of the IWM Digital Humanism Fellowship Program

Moderation by Stefan Woltran, Professor at TU Wien Informatics, Head of the Research Unit Databases and AI, and Co-Head of the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (CAIML).

Public Lecture


“Rationality” in Simon’s “bounded rationality” is the principle that humans make decisions based on step-by-step (algorithmic) reasoning using systematic rules of logic to maximize utility. “Bounded rationality” is the observation that the ability of a human brain to handle algorithmic complexity and data is limited. Bounded rationality, in other words, treats a decision-maker as a machine carrying out computations with limited resources. In this talk, I will argue that the recent breakthroughs in AI demonstrate that much of what we consider “intelligence” is not based on algorithmic symbol manipulation, and that what the machines are doing more closely resembles intuitive thinking than rational decision making. Under this model, the goal of “explainable AI” is unachievable in any useful form.

About Edward Lee

Edward Ashford Lee has been working on software systems for 40 years. He currently divides his time between software systems research and studies of philosophical and societal implications of technology. After education at Yale, MIT, and Bell Labs, he landed at Berkeley, where he is now a Professor at the Graduate School in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. His software research focuses on cyber-physical systems, which integrate computing with the physical world. He is the author of several textbooks and two general-audience books: “The Coevolution: The Entwined Futures and Humans and Machines” (2020) and “Plato and the Nerd: The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology” (2017).

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