Science Cinema: CITEC Alumnus Deciphers the Film “Arrival”

Discussion with cognitive scientist Dr. Sascha Griffiths at Kamera movie theater

The movie “Arrival” was shown on Monday, 20 February 2017 as part of the Science Cinema film series. Dr. Sascha Griffiths, an alumnus of the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC), commented on the science fiction film and explained the particulars of deciphering an unknown language. Following, the audience had the chance to ask questions and enter into discussion with Dr. Griffiths. The film began at 19:00 in the Kamera Filmkunsttheater (Kamera Art Film Theater, Feilenstrasse 2-4 in Bielefeld).

In the film “Arrival,” 12 enormous space ships touch down in different places around the world. In order to find out what the visitors intend to do, the military recruits Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a professor of linguistics. Together with mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), they are supposed to make contact with the aliens and translate their language. Louise Banks is fascinated by the sounds of the alien language and the shapes of their visual linguistic depictions, and is soon able to figure out the first steps towards communication.

Sascha Griffiths studied linguistics and mathematics at Bielefeld University. After completing his doctoral work in England, he conducted research at the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology. He is currently researching human-machine interaction at the Universität Hamburg. Sascha Griffiths has worked on the notation of rare languages during research trips in Africa, and has also worked on a process for automatically recognizing structures in texts.

Since 2013, the Science Cinema film series has brought scientists and researchers from Bielefeld University together with the Bielefeld public at the Kamera Theater. Scientists talk about their current research projects – pertaining to the film – and are available to take questions from the audience. Science Cinema is a cooperative project from the Faculty of Technology at Bielefeld University, the art film theater Kamera, and the Wissenschaftsbüro (science office) of Bielefeld Marketing GmbH. Professor Dr. Ipke Wachsmuth and Dr.-Ing. Julia Fröhlich serve as moderators.