March 19, 2019

‘What IF Machines Thought like Humans?' ‘Father of the Internet’ takes a look

Vint Cerf Vint Cerf
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Have you ever thought about what it’d be like to engage in a normal conversation about the weather or politics … with a robot? Science is on its way to transforming this thought into a reality, but does this novel concept fall into the category of exciting, terrifying or both?

Vint Cerf, Google chief internet evangelist who is widely known as a “Father of the Internet,” will take a “non-expert” look at artificial intelligence and this emerging idea from all angles when he visits Purdue on April 5. “What IF Machines Thought like Humans,” which is sponsored by the College of Engineering, will take place at 1 p.m. in Stewart Center’s Fowler Hall.

The event is a part of Purdue’s Ideas Festival, the centerpiece of Purdue’s Giant Leaps Sesquicentennial Campaign, a series of events that connect world-renowned speakers and Purdue expertise in a conversation on the most critical problems facing the world. One of the Ideas Festival’s themes is AI, Algorithms and Automation: Balancing Humanity and Technology.

The notion that machines might someday be able to engage with humans in the same capacity that we engage with each other is still an idea of the future, but Cerf will offer insight into the current state of machine learning. He will also address some of the inevitable limits of machine learning, such as the significant difficulty of making these machines’ functionality on par with human cognitive capacity. For example, while humans are able to form models of the world around them quickly and with limited inputs, machines don’t have this ability, so it’s important that the world doesn’t project more social awareness on a robot than it deserves.

“Purdue Engineering is very excited to host the visit by Vint Cerf, a legendary pioneer of the internet and the digital age,” said Mung Chiang, Purdue’s John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering. “What Vint invented and designed changed how we live, work and play. As we explore Engineering 2169, we look forward to the intellectually dynamic conversation between Vint and our students and faculty.”

Cerf is credited as the designer of many of various TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the internet, which has led to him gaining the informal title of a “Father of the Internet.” Cerf has won many accolades within the field of computer science, including the U.S. National Medal of Technology and the ACM Alan M. Turing Award. He has served as vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google since 2005. 

Writer: Jaclyn Lawmaster,

Media Contact: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723,

Source: Stephanie McKinley, college events specialist, College of Engineering,

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