Meeting Summary: The goal of this workshop is to explore the meaning of “understanding"—particularly as it applies to complex phenomena beyond the simplicities of much of physics. We are all clear on the value and limits to description and even to prediction, but when it comes to understanding, we seem to be dealing with a more complex and shadowy idea. The response to this challenge has been to either ignore understanding and declare it a weak link in human progress (as per modern machine learning), suggest that we rethink what we mean by understanding (as per quantum mechanics), share or divide our understanding with machines (as per agent-based models and computational proofs), or preserve a vestige of human understanding in the domain of human experience as expressed through philosophy, history, and literature. The goal of this meeting is to convene a diverse group of thinkers, all of whom wrestle with the challenges of understanding, and propose new paths forward in an age of limitless data, computational inference, and complex connectivity.
This workshop is supported in part by the John Temple Foundation and the Miller Omega Program.