Fall 2017

The Limits of Humanly Knowable Mathematical Truth, Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems, and Artificial Intelligence

Tim Melvin, PhD

 In 1931, Kurt Gödel published one of the most infamously not-famous-enough works in mathematics: his incompleteness theorems. In this talk we will explore the history behind his incompleteness theorems, and how he showed that truth and mathematical proof are not the same. We also explore how Gödel’s incompleteness theorems relate to artificial intelligence and the limits of humanly knowable mathematics.

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The Case for Live Theater in the Digital Entertainment World

Professor Wendy Wisely

Over 2000 years ago, eager audiences would fill amphitheaters to have their eyes and ears amazed by spectacle and music, their minds challenged with themes and language, and their hearts touched watching the struggles of characters. Today’s audiences, need only tap a button or run a finger along a touch screen to bring up endless entertainment and educational content; and all from the comfort of their private couch. How can live theatre compete with that? Should live theatre just take its final bow and limp away into nostalgic memory? Why do people still go to see and hear plays or musicals? What are today's audiences seeking?

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Works of Literary Merit: A Paperweight and Shakespeare: Politics of Aesthetics in 1984

Karen Walker, PhD, English SRJC

While Orwell’s depiction of totalitarian power in 1984 has been much studied and discussed, little attention has been paid to the novel’s awareness of relationships between power and aesthetics. Dr. Karen Walker will bring that aspect of the novel to light––and raise questions about the role beauty plays in our own lives.

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How Was Donald Trump Elected?

Michael Hale, PhD

How was Donald Trump elected the 45th President of the United States? Was it the disgruntled white working class looking for a populist savior? Was it hatred of women and anti-feminist attitudes? Was it the death cries of white supremacy fearful of demographic change? Did the Democrats choose the wrong candidate in the primary? Or, do each of these singular causal analyses have limitations that obscure a clearer understanding of this election? Dr. Michael Hale will critically evaluate these common theories and provide his own analysis.

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Public Interest, Private Interests: Community Colleges in the Student Success Era

Terry Mulcaire

Terry Mulcaire will discuss two conflicting models of the community college. One sees the college as a public institution committed to the public interest. The second seeks to model public institutions after private sector models. In this model, notions of public interest and public good dwindle, or disappear. In the Student Success era, community colleges have been reformed to fit the private sector model. Mulcaire will discuss the problems and challenges associated with this change.

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Fascism: A Clinical Definition and Personal Testimony

Marco Giordano

Drawing upon personal experience and upbringing among Fascists and considerable grounding in political theory, Marco Giordano will present a workable and sufficient definition of Fascism for our times.

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Søren Kierkegaard vs. Silicon Valley

Mark Stapp, PhD

The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard critiqued what he saw as intellectual hubris among his Enlightenment contemporaries. He argued that human beings tend to forget that they are existing creatures rather than abstract intellects. Our own age shares some of the confidence and ambition at which Kierkegaard raised an eyebrow. Are the most fundamental human questions answerable by technology and Big Data analysis? Are much-publicized beliefs that death is “solvable” or in an impending technological singularity as reasonable as they might seem? This talk explores how Kierkegaard’s response to his own age remains relevant to ours. 

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