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Carlos Zednik, PhD

c [dot] a [dot] zednik [at] tue [dot] nl

Assistant Professor for Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence at Eindhoven University of Technology


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Carlos Zednik, PhD

c [dot] a [dot] zednik [at] tue [dot] nl

Assistant Professor
Philosophy of AI
Eindhoven University of Technology


My research centers on the explanation of natural and artificial cognitive systems. Many of my articles specify norms and best-practice methods for cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and explainable AI. Others develop philosophical concepts and arguments with which to better understand scientific and engineering practice.

I am the PI of the DFG-funded project on Generalizability and Simplicity of Mechanistic Explanations in Neuroscience, and an Associate Editor for the not-for-profit open-access journal Philosophy and the Mind Sciences.

In addition to my regular research and teaching, I do consulting work on the methodological, normative, and ethical constraints on artificial intelligence, my primary expertise being transparency in machine learning. In this context I have an ongoing relationship with the research team at neurocat GmbH, and have contributed to AI standardization efforts at the German Institute for Standardization (DIN).

Before arriving in Eindhoven I was based at the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Cognition program at the University of Magdeburg, and prior to that, at the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Osnabrück. I received my PhD from the Indiana University Cognitive Science Program, after receiving a Master's degree in Philosophy of Mind from the University of Warwick and a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Philosophy from Cornell University.

You can find out more about me on Google Scholar, PhilPapers, Publons, and Twitter.


☞ See my Google Scholar profile for citation metrics.


Zednik, C. & Boelsen, H. (forthcoming)
Scientific Exploration and Explainable Artificial Intelligence.
Minds and Machines
Abstract  Preprint


Zednik, C. & Boelsen, H. (2020)
The Exploratory Role of Explainable Artificial Intelligence.
Preprint volume for Philosophy Science Association 27th Biennial Meeting. Chicago, IL: Philosophy of Science Association.
Abstract  Proceedings


Zednik, C. (2019)
Solving the Black Box Problem: A Normative Framework for Explainable Artificial Intelligence.
Philosophy & Technology, DOI: 10.1007/s13347-019-00382-7
Abstract  Article  Preprint


Zednik, C. (2019)
Models and Mechanisms in Network Neuroscience.
Philosophical Psychology 32(1): 23-51.
Abstract  Article  Preprint


Zednik, C. & Jäkel, F. (2018)
Descending Marr's Levels: Standard Observers are no Panacea.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences 41, e249: 43-44 (commentary on target article by D. Rahnev & R.N. Denison).
Abstract  Article  Preprint


Zednik, C. (2018)
Computational Cognitive Neuroscience.
The Routledge Handbook of the Computational Mind (pp. 357-369). Edited by M. Colombo & M. Sprevak. London: Routledge.
Abstract  Chapter  Preprint


Zednik, C. (2018)
Will machine learning yield machine intelligence?
Philosophy and Theory of Artificial Intelligence III (pp. 225-227). Edited by V. Müller. Berlin: SAPERE Springer.
Abstract  Proceedings  Preprint


Zednik, C. (2017)
Mechanisms in Cognitive Science.
The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy (pp. 389-400). Edited by S. Glennan & P. Illari. London: Routledge.
Abstract  Chapter  Preprint


Fink, S.B. & Zednik, C. (2017)
Meeting in the Dark Room: Bayesian Rational Analysis and Hierarchical Predictive Coding.
Philosophy and Predictive Processing. Edited by T. Metzinger & W. Wiese. Frankfurt am Main: MIND Group.
Abstract  Chapter


Zednik, C. & Jäkel, F. (2016)
Bayesian reverse-engineering considered as a research strategy for cognitive science.
Synthese 193: 3951-3985.
Abstract  Article  Preprint


Zednik, C. (2015)
Heuristics, Descriptions, and the Scope of Mechanistic Explanation.
Explanation in Biology: An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences (pp. 295-318). Edited by C. Malaterre & P-A. Braillard. Dordrecht: Springer.
Abstract  Chapter  Preprint


Zednik, C. (2014)
Are Systems Neuroscience Explanations Mechanistic?
Preprint volume for Philosophy Science Association 24th Biennial Meeting. Chicago, IL: Philosophy of Science Association.
Abstract  Proceedings


Landy, D., Allen, C. & Zednik, C. (2014)
A perceptual account of symbolic reasoning.
Frontiers in Psychology 5(275): doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00275.
Abstract  Article


Zednik, C. & Jäkel, F. (2014)
How does Bayesian reverse-engineering work?
Proceedings of the 36th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 666-671). Edited by P. Bello, M. Guarini, M. McShane, & B. Scassellati. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
Abstract  Proceedings


Zednik, C. (2011)
The Nature of Dynamical Explanation.
Philosophy of Science 78(2): 238-263.
Abstract  Article  Preprint


Spivey, M., Richardson, D. & Zednik, C. (2010)
Language is spatial, not special: Using space for language and memory.
Spatial Foundations of Cognition and Language (pp. 16-40). Edited by L. Smith, K. Mix, & M. Gasser. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Abstract  Chapter


Zednik, C. (2009)
The Varieties of Dynamicism.
Proceedings of the 31st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2298-2303). Edited by N.A. Taatgen & H. van Rijn. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
Abstract  Proceedings


Zednik, C. (2008)
Dynamical Models & Mechanistic Explanations.
Proceedings of the 30th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1454-1459). Edited by B.C. Love, K. McRae, & V.M. Sloutsky. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
Abstract  Proceedings

Upcoming Talks
 
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2021
 
11.2021 Baltimore The Exploratory Role of Explainable AI (with Hannes Boelsen) Conference Philosophy of Science Association 24th Biennial Meeting
11.2021 Tübingen Explainable AI as a Tool for Scientific Exploration Workshop Philosophy of Science Meets Machine Learning
10.2021 Bern How should Explainable AI explain? Colloquium Center for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine
10.2021 Southampton How can Explainable AI help Scientific Explanation Colloquium Research Network: Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Intelligence for Automated Investigations for Scientific Discovery
07.2021 Hamburg Moral Responsibility and Explainable AI (with Christoph Widdau) Conference International Association for Computing and Philosophy 2021
06.2021 München Explainable AI and the Problems of Philosophy Colloquium Cognition, Values & Behaviour Research Group Meeting
04.2021 Lugano Explainable AI as a Tool for Scientific Exploration Colloquium Philosophy and AI
04.2021 London Overcoming Opacity in Machine Learning (with Hannes Boelsen) Conference Annual Convention of the Society for Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behavior

2020
 
12.2020 Kassel 25 years after Mind as Motion: What is left of the dynamical revolution? (Online) Colloquium Situated Cognition Research Seminar
12.2020 Aachen Explainable AI and the Problems of Philosophy (Online) Colloquium Theory of Science and Technology
11.2020 Bochum Moralische Verantwortung und erklärbare künstliche Intelligenz (Online) Workshop CAIS NRW: Philosophische Digitalisierungsforschung
06.2020 Magdeburg Über den Begriff der Verantwortung im digitalen Zeitalter (Online, mit Christoph Widdau) Colloquium Ringvorlesung: Autonomie im Digitalen Zeitalter
05.2020 Osnabrück Toward a Cognitive Science of AI (Online) Colloquium Colloquium of the Institute of Cognitive Science
01.2020 Warsaw 25 years after Mind as Motion: What is left of the dynamical revolution? Workshop Dynamical Models in Neurophenomenology

2019
 
12.2019 Darmstadt Toward a Cognitive Science of AI: Aims, Norms and Methods Colloquium Cognitive Science Colloquium
11.2019 Leiden Network Mechanisms in the Brain: Organization and Correlation Workshop What is Translation? Exploring the Missing Link Between Neuroscience and Psychiatry
10.2019 Hannover The Black Box Problem in Artificial Intelligence: Philosophical Reflections on Explainable AI Colloquium Kolloquium Philosophie und Wissenschaftsreflexion
09.2019 Geneve Solving the Black Box Problem: From Machine Learning to Marr (Poster) Conference 7th Biennial Conference of the European Philosophy of Science Association
08.2019 Köln Explanation in Cognitive Science: Computation, Algorithm, and Mechanism Workshop Computational approaches in language and music cognition research
02.2019 Köln The Black Box Problem and the Norms of Explainable AI Conference 3. Kongress der Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftsphilosophie, Symposium: Deep Learning and the Philosophy of AI

2018
 
12.2018 Köln Marr's Levels and Deep Neural Networks Workshop Causation and Computation in Neuroscience
11.2018 Stuttgart Opacity, Marr, and the Norms of Explainable AI Workshop Science and Art of Simulation: Epistemic opacity in computer simulation and machine learning
10.2018 Magdeburg Vom maschinellen Lernen zur maschinellen Intelligenz Colloquium Themenabend der evangelischen Studierendengemeinschaft
10.2018 Praha The Black Box Problem and the Norms of Explainable AI Workshop Machine Learning and Explanation in Cognitive Science
09.2018 Köln Will machine learning produce machine intelligence? Conference 10. Kongress der Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie
06.2018 Warszawa From Machine Learning to Machine Intelligence Conference International Association for Computing and Philosophy 2018
06.2018 Magdeburg Künstliche Intelligenz als Evolutionsstufe: Übermenschlich oder doch menschenähnlich? Colloquium Ringvorlesung "Von Hominiden zu Humanoiden"
04.2018 Edinburgh From Machine Learning to Machine Intelligence Colloquium Mind Network Meeting

2017
 
11.2017 Leeds From Machine Learning to Machine Intelligence (Poster) Conference Philosophy and Theory of Artificial Intelligence 2017
10.2017 Witten Mechanistic Explanation in Network Neuroscience: A Reply to Objections Workshop Models of Mechanisms in Computational Neuroscience
06.2017 Magdeburg Explanation in cognitive science: Marr and mechanisms Colloquium Magdeburg-Augustana Neurophilosophy Summer School
04.2017 Dubrovnik Mechanistic Explanation in Systems Neuroscience: A Reply to Objections Conference Annual Philosophy of Science Conference

2016
 
06.2016 Warszawa Explanation in cognitive science: Marr and mechanisms Workshop Mechanistic Integration and Unification in Cognitive Science
03.2016 Düsseldorf Viewing Marr as a Mechanist Conference 2. Kongress der Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftsphilosophie
01.2016 Witten Models and Mechanisms in Systems Neuroscience Colloquium Philosophy of Science Colloquium

2015
 
10.2015 Magdeburg Systems Neuroscience: Models and Mechanisms Colloquium Philosophisches Institutskolloquium

2014
 
11.2014 Chicago Are explanations in systems neuroscience mechanistic? Conference Philosophy of Science Association 24th Biennial Meeting
10.2014 Berlin Bayesian reverse-engineering considered as a research strategy in cognitive science Colloquium Current Issues Seminar, Berlin School of Mind and Brain
09.2014 Köln Systems, networks, and mechanistic explanations in neuroscience Workshop Causality and Complexity in the Sciences
07.2014 Quebec How does Bayesian reverse-engineering work? Conference 36th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
05.2014 Leiden Panel discussion: The computational and physical realizability of probabilistic minds and brains Workshop Perspectives on Human Probabilistic Inference
05.2014 Leiden How does Bayesian reverse-engineering work? Workshop Perspectives on Human Probabilistic Inference

2013
 
12.2013 Bochum Mechanistic explanation in cognitive science: Top-down and bottom-up Colloquium Philosophy meets Cognitive Science
08.2013 Helsinki Are explanations in network neuroscience mechanistic? Conference 4th Meeting of the European Philosophy of Science Association.
08.2013 Berlin Bayesian modeling and heuristic strategies for model-development Conference 35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Symposium: Constraints on Bayesian Explanation
07.2013 Cortina d'Ampezzo The role of Bayesian rational analysis in cognitive scientific explanation Conference 12th Annual Summer Interdisciplinary Conference
05.2013 Magdeburg Mathematics and Mechanistic Explanations of Mind Colloquium Philosophisches Institutskolloquium
03.2013 Hannover Heuristics of mechanism-discovery and the limits of mechanistic explanation Conference 1. Kongress der Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftsphilosophi
03.2013 Hannover Mechanistic explanation and cognitive science Conference Netzwerktagung der Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung

2012
 
12.2012 Tilburg The heuristic and justificatory role of Bayesian task-analysis in mechanistic explanation Workshop Models & Mechanisms
09.2012 Konstanz From Extended Mechanisms to Extended Minds Conference 8. Kongress der Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie
08.2012 London Marr's Levels and Mechanistic Explanation: Why ask Why? Conference 20th Annual Conference of the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology
06.2012 Osnabrück Dynamical Systems Theory as a Conceptual Framework for Affective Science Workshop Giovanna Colombetti's "The Feeling Body: Affective Science meets the Enactive Mind"

2011
 
10.2011 Osnabrück Cognitive Science and the Changing Face of Mechanistic Explanation Colloquium Kolloquium des Instituts für Kognitionswissenschaft
07.2011 Montreal Cognitive Mechanisms: Soft-assembled, complex, and large Conference 37th Annual Meeting of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology
04.2011 Bloomington The Changing Face of Mechanistic Explanation (Poster) Colloquium 2011 IGERT Research Showcase
01.2011 Wien Complex Systems & Mechanistic Explanation Colloquium Jour fixe: Simulation komplexer Systeme

2010
 
08.2010 Bochum Mental Mechanisms & the Extended Mind Conference 18th Annual Conference of the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology
04.2010 Bloomington Situated, Embodied, Dynamical Mechanisms (Poster) Colloquium 2010 IGERT Research Showcase

2009
 
12.2009 Bloomington The Nature of Dynamical Explanation Colloquium Indiana University Cognitive Lunch Series
07.2009 Amsterdam The Varieties of Dynamicism Conference 31st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
06.2009 Bloomington The Varieties of Dynamicism Conference 35th Annual Meeting of the Society for Philosophy and psychology

2008
 
07.2008 Washington, DC Dynamical Models & Mechanistic Explanations (Poster) Conference 30th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
07.2008 Bloomington Computation & Dynamics: Alternative frameworks for describing mental mechanisms? Conference North American Conference on Computing and Philosophy
06.2008 Philadelphia Dynamical Models & Mechanistic Explanations Conference 34th Annual Meeting of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology
Current Teaching
Philosophy and Ethics of Artificial Intelligence Eindhoven 2021 Lecture
Descriptive Decision Theory Eindhoven 2021 Lecture


Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence
Can Machines Think?* Magdeburg 2015 B Seminar
Data Science Ethics Eindhoven 2021 Lecture"
Ethics of AI* Magdeburg 2019 B Seminar"
Philosophy of AI Magdeburg 2017 B Seminar
Philosophy of AI (Advanced)* Magdeburg 2018 M Seminar

Philosophy of Mind
Computation and the Brain* Magdeburg 2016 B Seminar
Embodied Cognition* Magdeburg 2016 B Seminar
—* Magdeburg 2019 B Seminar
Introduction to Philosophy of Mind Osnabrück 2012 B Seminar
Osnabrück 2015 Lecture
Philosophical Foundations of Cognitive Science Indiana 2008 Tutorial
Indiana 2009 Lecture
Ryle: The Concept of Mind Osnabrück 2015 M Seminar
Sellars: Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind* Magdeburg 2018 B Seminar

Philosophy of Science
Cognition as a Natural Kind Magdeburg 2020 B Seminar
Does Psychology Reduce to Neuroscience? Magdeburg 2016 B Seminar
Explaining Perceptual Choice Magdeburg 2017 M Seminar"
Explanation in Cognitive Science Osnabrück 2014 B Seminar"
Osnabrück 2015 Lecture"
Philosophy and Ethics of Science Magdeburg 2018 Lecture
Theory and Methodology of Cognitive Neuroscience* Magdeburg 2016 M Seminar"

History of Philosophy
British Empiricism* Magdeburg 2016 B Seminar
Descartes: Meditations* Magdeburg 2015 B Seminar
Introduction to Theoretical Philosophy* Magdeburg 2019 Lecture
Wittgenstein: Philosphical Investigations* Magdeburg 2017 B Seminar
Wittgenstein: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus* Magdeburg 2019 B Seminar

Methods Courses
Argumentation Theory* Magdeburg 2017 B Seminar
Descriptive Decision Theory Eindhoven 2020 Lecture"
Introduction to Formal Logic Osnabrück 2014 Lecture
—* Magdeburg 2020 Lecture
Normative Decision Theory for Engineers Eindhoven 2021 Tutorial
Thinking and Reasoning Indiana 2007 Tutorial


*in German "co-taught


April 2021, London
Overcoming Opacity in Machine Learning
Symposium (10 speakers) at the Annual Convention of the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behavior.


March 2020, Magdeburg
Machine Learning and Mechanistic Models in Neuroscience
2nd Workshop (6 participants) of the GeSiMEx Project.


March 2019, Köln
Deep Learning and the Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence
GAP-GWP Symposium (4 speakers) at the Congress of the German Philosophy of Science Association.


October 2017, Witten
Models of Mechanisms in Computational Neuroscience
Kick-off Workshop (15 participants) for the DFG-Funded German-Polish International Collaboration Project, Models of Mechanisms in Computational Neuroscience.


Principal Investigator, August 2021 - July 2025
Cognitive Models as Surrogate Models for Explainable AI
EAISI Startup Grant (€250,000)
This project will fund one PhD student in Eindhoven, to investigate the utility of cognitive modeling methods for the purposes of explaining the behavior of "black box" AI systems such as deep neural networks.
Project website


Research Strategy Consultant, January 2020 - present
Comprehensability in Machine Learning
neurocat GmbH
neurocat is developing a product to bring explainable AI tools to market. I am helping them do that.
neurocat website


Principal Investigator (with Jens Harbecke, Witten/Herdecke Universität), April 2019 - March 2022
Model-Development in Neuroscience: Simplicity and Generalizability in Mechanistic Explanations
DFG Sachbeihilfe (€300,000)
The aim of this project is to investigate the ways in which criteria of simplicity and generalizability are applied in the development of mechanistic explanations in neuroscience. It funds one PhD position in Magdeburg, as well as a student assistant and a replacement of Jens Harbecke's position in Witten.
Project website


Ethics Advisor, November 2018 - March 2021
Ultra Low-Power Event-Based Camera (ULPEC)
ERC Horizons 2020 Action on Smart System Integration
The aim of this project is to implement spiking neural networks on neuromorphic hardware for the purposes of building an event-based camera for self-driving cars. My role is to oversee the ethical conduct of scientific research, as well as to advise on the technology's possible social impact with respect to e.g. data privacy and non-civilian use.
Project website


Consortium member, May 2018 - March 2019
Artificial Intelligence - Quality Requirements and Life Cycle Management for AI Modules
DIN SPEC (PAS) 92001
This consortium of industry and university representatives works under the guidance of the German Standardization Agency (DIN) to specify norms and practices for the development of artificial intelligence software. My own contribution focuses on questions of the comprehensibility of machine learning technologies.
Project website.
Technical Standard (PDF)


Principal Investigator, September 2017 - December 2018
Models of Mechanisms in Computational Neuroscience
DFG Internationale Kooperationsanbahnung (€18,000)
The aim of this project is to foster collaboration and initiate joint projects between researchers in Magdeburg, Witten, and Warsaw who work on the norms and practices of mechanistic explanation in computational neuroscience. It funds a series of workshops and research visits