PAPER INSTRUCTIONS POSTED AT https://courseweb.pitt.edu
version 2018-10-09 — readings may be updated; online version supersedes any printed copy
HPS 1616 — Artificial Intelligence and Philosophy of Science — Fall 2018
Meeting times and locations: Tu-Th 2:30-3:45, CL 119
Open office hours (i.e., no appointment necessary): Tues 4-5 and Thurs 1:15-2:15 in CL 1109H.
Email me for appointments at other times.
Course Description [Jump to Readings]
Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is one of the core disciplines of cognitive science. It raises fascinating questions: Can robots think? Is artificial intelligence really intelligence? Could artifacts be conscious? What can we learn about the human mind from building robots? How should intelligent robots be built? We will survey the main controversies that artificial intelligence has provoked.
By the end of this course, you should have a grasp of the history of the field and the technologies underlying the current developments that have pushed A.I. into the forefront of public discussion, as well as a framework for thinking about the scientific significance and the ethical and social implications of these technologies. No experience with computer programming is required for this course, but you will be expected to develop accurate, non-technical understanding of concepts such as algorithm, knowledge representation, machine learning, and artificial neural network. Given this knowledge you will be expected to reflect critically upon the claims about human nature and the future of humanity and society that are driven by the seemingly rapid developments in technology.
This course satisfies the University General Education requirement in PHILOSOPHICAL THINKING OR ETHICS.
Make use of open office hours! I actually enjoy talking about this stuff, and you should not feel ashamed or embarrassed if there's something you don't understand. Philosophy deals with hard questions and sometimes seemingly intractable problems, and there are no "stupid" questions, just questions and ideas that are sometimes hard to put into words, and that are best worked out in dialogue with others.
Course Format, Assessments, and Attendance
Classes will be a mixture of lecture and discussion. I will sometimes use presentation slides for class, sometimes not — some material lends itself better to more structured presentation, some lends itself to a more free-flowing Q&A driven classroom style. When I do use slides, they will be made available through Pitt's Courseweb after class, but they will not reflect the full content of the lecture that day. So you may use them for later study, but they are not a substitute for attendance and taking your own notes. Concerning note-taking and studying, you are advised to read the following two articles from the cognitive science of learning:
You will be assessed on your ability both to accurately convey the concepts covered in the readings and classroom concepts in your own words and to synthesize ideas from different areas into coherent arguments for and against claims involving A.I. Your grade will be based on the following pieces of work:
Because you will be evaluated on your ability to synthesize ideas discussed in class and in the readings, you should not expect to do well if you do not attend lecture or do the readings. However, this is not grade school, so attendance will not be officially enforced. In all cases of absence, excused or unexcused, it is your responsibility to get missed notes and information from a classmate.
Missed Assessment Policy
You may request to make up for missed exams or other assessments only for university-sanctioned activities, predictable absences for university-sanctioned activities, or genuine emergencies.
These books are required for this class:
Readings from these books will be supplemented with additional readings that will be provided electronically through the links below. These items should be read in the order listed, but there is no set schedule. We will take the lectures and discussions at a pace that is necessary for mastery of the concepts and arguments. The → in the list will be updated to show what you should be reading currently. As appropriate, too, I will insert extra readings to provide additional context and information, especially in the optional readings list.
Statement for Students with Disabilities
If you will need extra time for testing or other accommodations due to either short-term or long-term disabilities, please contact the Pitt Office of Student Affairs for information about resources available to help you do you best work.Statement about Academic Misconduct
University rules and the Pitt student code concerning academic misconduct will be rigorously enforced in this class. It is important to cite sources properly and avoid plagiarizing the work of others. If you are unsure about what is required to avoid plagiarism, Indiana University's School of Education has a very comprehensive set of plagiarism tutorials and certification that you should work through.