1995 Darwinism and Artificial Intelligence

The Tufts workshop set out to explore the relationship between Darwin ism and Artificial Intelligence. To debate the issues, Professor Daniel Dennett brought together many of the key contributors to the fields of Artificial Life, Artificial Intelligence, Biology, and Cognitive Science over the last thirty years. The fascinating and lively debate that ensued ranges far and wide, from Philosophy of Science to Mathematical Genetics, taking in historical issues and ethical considerations for the future along the way.

The workshop examined how the study of the way in which biological brains and autonomous agents arose in the past may inform our efforts to build artificial brains and autonomous agents in the future. The 26 themes addressed included evolutionary timescales, beauty and anthropomorphism, recombination, Minsky and learning, behavior and intentionality, man as machine, teleology, the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, the future of work.

Convened by:
Daniel C. Dennett
Director, Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University; Author, Conciousness Explained


The workshop was recorded and published as a DVD by Oxford University Press. (900 speech items, 33 minutes of video, 96 minutes of audio, 300 bibliographies, glossary and search terms)

  • Rodney Brooks, Director, Mobile Robots, MIT
  • Murray Gell-Mann, Nobel Physicist; Co-Founder, Santa Fe Institute; Author, The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and Complex
  • David Haig, Fellow, Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology
  • Danny Hills, Founder, Thinking Machines
  • Douglas Hofstadter, Cognitive Scientist; Pultitzer Prize-winning Author, Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
  • John Holland, Associate Director, Logic of Computation Group, University of Michigan
  • Kevin Kelly, Executive Editor, Wired; Author, Out of Control: The Rise of Neo-Biological Civilization
  • Patricia Maes, Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, The Media Lab, MIT
  • Bruce Mazlish, Professor of History, MIT; Author, The Fourth Disconttinuity: The Co-evolution of Humans and Machines
  • Marvin Minsky, Japan Prize Recipient; Co-Founder, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, MIT; Author, The Society of Mind
  • Hans Moravec, Director, Mobile Robot Lab, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Seymour Papert, LEGO Professor of Learning Research, MIT; Co-Director, Artificial Intelligence Lab, MIT
  • Oliver Selfridge, Computer Scientist, Lincoln Laboratory, MIT; Creator, “Pandemonium” model