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Philosophy Live: ‘Living in the past: exploring memory in humans, animals, and artificial agents’

20 May, 6:30 pm8:00 pm


Why live in the past? Humans reminisce and remember past events, even ‘replaying’ them in the mind’s eye. But why not just live in the moment? What’s the point in devoting mental resources to storing information about the past? Do other animals do this, or is dwelling on the past a uniquely human innovation? And what happens when we build this kind of memory into intelligent machines?

To discuss these questions, we bring together thinkers from philosophy, psychology and computer science for a panel-style event, with discussion questions posed by both the chair and regular questions from the audience.

Meet our speakers and chair

Nicola Clayton is an experimental psychologist whose work with members of the crow family have transformed our understanding of the minds of birds – especially their memory abilities. As well as being Professor of Comparative Cognition at Cambridge, she is the first Scientist in Residence at the dance company Rambert.

Felipe De Brigard is a philosopher and cognitive scientist who studies the ways in which memory and the imagination interact, both with each other and with other mental processes like attention and consciousness. He is Fuchsberg-Levine Family Associate Professor of Philosophy at Duke University.

Zafeirios Fountas is a research scientist working on biologically-inspired artificial intelligence. His work focusses on how the brain’s abilities to remember past events and represent time can be built into machines, and how this might lead to improvements in AI. He leads the brain-inspired computing group at Huawei.

Johannes Mahr is a philosopher and cognitive scientist interested in episodic memory, imagination and human communication. His work highlights the important role episodic memory plays in human social practices. He is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at York University.

Ali Boyle is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at LSE. She works on the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, especially questions about memory and the minds of nonhuman animals.

Monday, 20 May 2024, 6:30pm-8:00pm

Sheikh Zayed Theatre, CKK Building, LSE Campus

This event is free and open to all. Join in-person or online. For the online event: Register for this event via LSE Live.


20 May
6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Event Category:


Sheikh Zayed Theatre
New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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