MODERATOR: John Hockenberry
PARTICIPANTS: Luciano Floridi, Gary Small, Rosalind Picard
PROGRAM DATE: Friday, June 4, 2010

Creative thought is surely among our most precious and mysterious capabilities. But can powerful computers rival the human brain? As thinking, remembering and innovating become increasingly interwoven with technological advances, what are we capable of? What do we lose? Join Luciano Floridi, John Donoghue, Gary Small and Rosalind Picard for a thought-provoking program about thinking.

This program is part of The Big Idea Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.

  • Share This:



Three-time Peabody Award winner, four-time Emmy Award winner, and Dateline NBC correspondent John Hockenberry has broad experience as a journalist and commentator for more than two decades. Hockenberry is the anchor of the public radio show The Takeaway on WNYC and PRI. He has reported from all over the world, in virtually every medium, having anchored programs for network, cable, and radio. Hockenberry is a noted presenter and moderator at conferences such as TED, Aspen Ideas, and the World Science Festival.



Professor, Philosopher

Luciano Floridi is one of Italy’s most influential thinkers in the area of philosophy science, technology, and ethics, and is best known as the founder of two major areas of research,Information Ethics and the Philosophy of Information.

Dr. Floridi is the first philosopher elected Gauss Professor by the Göttingen Academy of Sciences. In 2009, the American Philosophical Association awarded him the Barwise Prize, in recognition of his research on the philosophy of information and he was elected Fellow of the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour. He is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire, where he holds the Research Chair in Philosophy of Information and UNESCO Chair of Information and Computer Ethics. In addition, he is Fellow of St Cross College at University of Oxford.

In addition, Dr. Floridi is the founder and director of IEG, Oxford University Information Ethics research Group and GPI, the University of Hertfordshire research Group in Philosophy of Information. In 2010, he was appointed Editor-in-Chief of Philosophy and Technology.


Gary Small is the co-inventor of the first brain-scanning technology to detect the physical evidence of Alzheimer’s disease in living people. He also led the team of neuroscientists that was the first to reveal that Internet searching may result in rapid and significant alterations in brain neural circuitry.

Scientific American magazine named Small one of the world’s top innovators in science and technology. He is the author of several popular books, including the New York Times bestsellerThe Memory Bible and iBrain. His upcoming book (October 2010), The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: A Psychiatrist’s Stories of His Most Bizarre Cases, has been optioned by Twentieth Century Fox for a television series.

Small is a professor of psychiatry at UCLA, where he directs the Memory and Aging Research Center and the Center on Aging.


Rosalind W. Picard is an international leader in envisioning and inventing innovative technology. Her award-winning book Affective Computing was instrumental in starting the new field by that name.

Dr. Picard is known for constructing mathematical texture models for content-based retrieval of images, for creating new tools such as the Photobook system and for pioneering methods of automated search and annotation in digital video. She holds multiple patents, having designed and developed a variety of new sensors, algorithms and systems for sensing, recognizing and responding respectfully to human affective information, with applications in autism communication, human and machine learning, health behavior change, marketing, advertising, customer service and human-computer interaction.

Widely published, Dr. Picard is founder and director of the Affective Computing Research Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory; co-director of the Things That Think Consortium, the largest industrial sponsorship organization at the lab; and director of MIT’s new Autism Communication Technology Initiative. In April 2009 she co-founded Affectiva, Inc., which makes products to help measure and communicate emotion. She serves as its chairman and chief scientist.