Ashtekar Frontiers of Science Lecture: Exploring the A.I. Revolution

Story posted February 16, 2022 in CommRadio, News by Jon Mead

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Associate Dean of Research and Innovation, Miguel Mostafa, made introductions to over 70 people as they gathered Saturday morning to attend the 2022 Ashtekar Frontiers of Science Lectures.

The event was founded by Abhay Ashtekar, a director for the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos. According to Mostafa it’s the “most successful science outreach event in Pennsylvania.”

The webinar consists of six lectures that explore the use of artificial intelligence, other related technologies and their impact on today’s society.

Hosted by the Eberly College of Science, each guest speaker addresses a different topic regarding the “A.I Revolution.”

Last Saturday’s lecture was presented by Jinchao Xu, a professor for Penn State’s mathematics department, who talked about his view of what exactly A.I. is.

“You have natural intelligence which exists in humans, in nature, created by God,” said Xu. “Artificial intelligence is designed and made by people, which some may call machine intelligence.”

Xu presented a mathematical understanding of A.I. as he went over a series of mathematical models.

“Can we actually have some mathematics on the stand-in of this very advanced technology?” said Xu. “I’m just trying my best to offer my view of how we understand this mathematics.”

One topic of discussion was the distinction between the human brain, one that makes decisions based on data and logic, and a mechanical brain, one that’s trained to make decisions through ones and zeroes.

Xu gave a machine’s identification of an animal as an example of how it makes certain decisions.

“You want the function to tell the difference. You want some kind of parameters,” Xu said. “Let's say the dog is ‘010,’ the rabbit is going to be “001.” 

The last lecture in the series takes place Saturday, Feb. 19 if students still want to check it out, with the topic being “the importance of human agency in the age of A.I.”

Jon Mead is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email

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