Leslie Valiant: Educability

A conversation with Leslie Valiant about his new book, The Importants of Being Educable: A New Theory of Human Uniqueness.

Leslie Valiant: Educabilit

We’re excited to welcome to the podcast Leslie Valiant, a pioneering computer scientist and Turing Award winner renowned for his groundbreaking work in machine learning and computational learning theory. In his seminal 1983 paper, Leslie introduced the concept of Probably Approximately Correct or PAC learning, kick-starting a new era of research into what machines can learn.

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Now, in his latest book, The Importance of Being Educable: A New Theory of Human Uniqueness, Leslie builds upon his previous work to present a thought-provoking examination of what truly sets human intelligence apart. He introduces the concept of "educability" - our unparalleled ability as a species to absorb, apply, and share knowledge.

Through an interplay of abstract learning algorithms and relatable examples, the book illuminates the fundamental differences between human and machine learning, arguing that while learning is computable, today's AI is still a far cry from human-level educability. Leslie advocates for greater investment in the science of learning and education to better understand and cultivate our species' unique intellectual gifts.

In this conversation, we dive deep into the key ideas from The Importance of Being Educable and their profound implications for the future of both human and artificial intelligence. We explore questions like:

  • What are the core components of educability that make human intelligence special?
  • How can we design AI systems to augment rather than replace human learning?
  • Why has the science of education lagged behind other fields, and what role can AI play in accelerating pedagogical research and practice?
  • Should we be concerned about a potential "intelligence explosion" as machines grow more sophisticated, or are there limits to the power of AI?

Let’s dive into our conversation with Leslie Valiant.

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Thanks to Jonathan Coulton for our music

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