Berwick gives 2016 STOQ lecture at the Vatican

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August 5, 2016

Laboratory for Information & Decision Systems

Robert Berwick, professor of computer science and engineering and computational linguistics, delivers lecture on the evolution of human language.

Bob Berwick


On July 18, 2016, LIDS professor Robert Berwick delivered the 2016 STOQ Lecture at the Vatican. Organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture, this is a major lecture series that provides a space to reflect on key, emerging, and sometimes crucial issues in the area of Faith, Science, and Theology. Previous speakers have included Noam Chomsky (MIT) and John Barrow (University of Cambridge).

Berwick, a professor of computer science and engineering and computational linguistics, spoke about his recent book, Why Only Us, co-authored with linguistics professor Noam Chomsky and published by the MIT Press.

The book, which was recently reviewed in The New York Review of Books, discusses the evolution of human language through a range of interesting topics—from biolinguistics to the computational efficiency of language as a system of thought and understanding.

“People don’t realize how uniform the human population is,” Berwick told MIT News in March. “We’re all very alike as humans, and this language capacity is incredibly uniform. If you take a baby from Southern Africa and put it in Beijing, they’ll speak Chinese.”

To learn more about Why Only Us see:
http://news.mit.edu/2016/book-chomsky-berwick-language-skills-0301