Limits of Machines, Limits of Humans


"Rationality" in Simon’s "bounded rationality" is the principle that humans make decisions based on step-by-step (algorithmic) reasoning using systematic rules of logic to maximize utility. "Bounded rationality" is the observation that the ability of a human brain to handle algorithmic complexity and data is limited. Bounded rationality, in other words, treats a decision maker as a machine carrying out computations with limited resources. In this talk, Edward A. Lee will argue that the recent breakthroughs in AI demonstrate that much of what we consider "intelligence" is not based on algorithmic symbol manipulation, and that what the machines are doing more closely resembles intuitive thinking than rational decision making. Under this model, the goal of "explainable AI" is unachievable in any useful form.

Edward A. Lee is the Robert S. Pepper Distinguished Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) at the University of California at Berkeley. He currently is an IWM Visiting Fellow in their new Digital Humanism program. His software research focuses on cyber-physical systems, which integrate computing with the physical world. Lee is the author of several books, including The Coevolution: The Entwined Futures of Humans and Machines (2020) and Plato and the Nerd: The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology (2017).

Moderator: Stefan Woltran, Professor of Foundations of Artificial Intelligence at the TU Wien and Head of the research unit Databases and AI.

Welcome addresses: Gerti Kappel, Dean of the Faculty of Informatics at TU Wien, and Michael Wiesmüller, BMK.

Presentation of the new Digital Humanism program: Ludger Hagedorn, Permanent Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences.

This is a public event, please click the button below to register if you want to attend on-site. A livestream will be available here.


In cooperation with:

Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology.

The Digital Humanism program is realized in cooperation with the TU Wien Informatics Doctoral School and the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (CAIML); it is supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology.