skip to primary navigationskip to content

2018 Wheeler Lecture – Professor Stephen Pulman: Language, learning and creativity

When May 30, 2018
from 04:15 PM to 05:15 PM
Where William Gates Building, Lecture Theatre 1
Contact Name
Add event to calendar vCal

It’s nearly 70 years since the Turing test was proposed as an operational test for intelligence in computers, and it is still a subject that provokes much discussion. One important aspect of the Turing Test is linguistic ability, and one important aspect of that ability is what Chomsky called “the creative aspect of language use”, the ability of language to serve as “an instrument for free expression of thought, unbounded in scope, uncontrolled by stimulus conditions though appropriate to situations”.

With every new wave of progress in artificial intelligence, such as that promised by the current “deep learning” paradigm, it’s natural to ask the question whether these advances get us any nearer to a machine that could pass the Turing test, or that could use language creatively. In this talk, I’ll explore these issues, in particular looking at some parallels between the implications for human learning that we could derive from current deep learning methods, and the intellectual climate of behaviourism and empiricism in language learning and use that Chomsky was reacting against.


The programme for the day is as follows:

  • 16:15 Wheeler lecture.
  • 17:30 Drinks reception.


There is no charge to attend, but it would be helpful if you could register your interest using the registration form.

More information about this event…

Cambridge Language Sciences is a virtual centre for language researchers at the University of Cambridge. 

Our mission is

  • to connect a diverse research community
  • to create increased opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration
  • to advance knowledge through the cross-fertilisation of ideas
  • to develop external partnerships
  • to equip the next generation of researchers with the knowledge, experience and skills for interdisciplinary research.

Click here to join us or to .

Sign up for the language sciences mailing list.

Download our newsletter here.

Upcoming events

Institutional multilingualism / Challenging monolingual histories (MEITS seminar series)

Feb 28, 2019

Seminar Room G, Second Floor, 17 Mill Lane, CB2 1RX

Workshop: The Future of AI: Language, Ethics, Technology

Mar 25, 2019

Room SG1, Alison Richard Building

Workshop: Presentation skills

Jun 12, 2019

SR24 (2nd floor), English Faculty

Language Sciences Research Symposium for early-careers researchers

Jun 26, 2019

The Cavonius Centre, Gonville & Caius College

Previous events

Upcoming events