Philosophy of Minds & Machines Philosophy 64
2:30 - 3:50, TF Peter Suber Carpenter 322 Spring 2000-2001 Syllabus
The reading for this course consists of the following books:
- Margaret Boden (ed.), The Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence, Oxford University Press, 1990.
- Jack Copeland, Artificial Intelligence: A Philosophical Introduction, Blackwell, 1993.
- George Dyson, Darwin Among the Machines: The Evolution of Global Intelligence, Perseus Books, 1997.
- Raymond Kurzweil, The Age of Intelligent Machines, MIT Press, 1990.
I've created a course homepage containing a collection of hand-outs and course-related web links at http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/courses/mm/mmhome.htm. If you find any other relevant links, let me know and I'll add them to the collection.
Works and pages cited for a given day will be covered that day in class and should have been read in advance. Material in square brackets is recommended but not required. Papers are due at class time on the days indicated.
Week 1, January 8 - 12 Tue First class, no reading due Fri This syllabus; generic hand-out; Copeland, Introduction, Chs. 1-2 Week 2, January 15 - 19 Tue Kurzweil 13-21, (109-117, 121-123) Fri Turing essay in Boden, 40-66 Week 3, January 22 - 26 Tue Copeland, Ch. 3, and Kurzweil essay in Kurzweil 374-379 Fri Dennett essay in Kurzweil, 48ff Week 4, January 29 - February 2 Tue Papert essay in Kurzweil, 78; [Hofstadter essay in Kurzweil, 80ff]; web readings on the Turing Test Wed No class, but... Paper on Turing Test due, 2:30 pm Fri Copeland, Chs. 4-5 [pp. 61-77 optional] Week 5, February 5 - 9 Tue Minsky essay in Kurzweil, 214-219, [Kurzweil 283-303] Fri Newell and Simon essay in Boden, 105-132 Week 6, February 12 - 16 Tue Dennett essay in Boden, 147-170 Fri Turkle essay in Kurzweil, 68-73; Boden essay in Kurzweil, 450-453; Gilder essay in Kurzweil, 454-457 Week 7, February 19 - 23 Tue Bill Joy, Why the Future Doesn't Need Us Wed No class, but... Paper on best and worse case scenarios due, 2:30 pm Fri No class Week 8, February 26 - March 2 Tue Copeland, Ch. 9 Fri Searle essay in Boden, 67-88 Week 9, March 5 - 9 Tue Copeland, Ch. 6 [pp. 107-120 optional] Fri Boden essay in Boden, 89-104 Week 10, March 12 - 16 Tue Waldrop in Kurzweil, 62-67; web readings on the Chinese Room Wed No class, but... Paper on Chinese Room due, 2:30 pm Fri Copeland, Ch. 10, esp. pp. 230-248 [pp. 207-230 merely recommended]. (No student-led discussion today.) Week 11, March 19 - 23 Tue No class, spring break Fri Week 12, March 26 - 30 Tue Dreyfus brothers essay in Boden, 309-333 Fri Copeland, Ch. 7 Week 13, April 2 - 6 Tue Copeland, Ch. 8 Fri Dyson. xi-xii, 1-35 Week 14, April 9 - 13 Tue Dyson, 35-73 Fri Dyson, 75-110 Week 15, April 16 - 20 Tue Dyson, 111-152 Paper topic (question) due Fri Dyson, 153-192 Evaluation form due before next class Week 16, April 23 - 27 Tue Dyson, 193-228. Last day of class. Wed No class, but... Final paper due, 2:30 pm Fri No class Assignments
Title Due date Weight Description Turing test paper January 31 17.5% 3-5 pp. Details. Best and worst case scenarios paper February 21 10% 2 pp. Ungraded. Details. Chinese room paper March 14 17.5% 3-5 pp. Details. Final paper April 25 25% 8-12 pp. on a topic approved in advance. Topic due in writing April 16. Details. In-Class Participation Daily 15% Attendance plus helpful, voluntary participation in every discussion. This includes at least one day as opening proposition giver and at least one day as presenter and discussion leader. Details. Electronic Participation Frequent 15% Helpful, voluntary participation in electronic discussion. Details. Evaluation form April 29 0% Due any time before the last day of class. Use the hardcopy form I will hand out or print yourself a copy of the online version. You must submit all assigned work to pass the course.
The "best and worst case scenarios" paper is a two-page, ungraded exercise of the imagination. Imagine that artificial intelligence has been achieved. Machines that surpass human intelligence by any test are commonplace. In one page describe the most beneficial applications or consequences of AI that you can imagine. In another page describe the most harmful. Although this paper is informal and ungraded, please type it for legibility. You may take more than two pages if you can't contain yourself. The paper is due in Week 7, but I hope you start thinking about it immediately. (The papers submitted in February, 2001, for this assignment are now on the web.)
For the Turing Test and Chinese Room papers, ask a sharp question as your topic, answer the question by your own lights, and argue explicitly and cogently for your answer. Of the many questions one could ask about the Turing Test and the Chinese Room, pick one which you would like to explore more deeply. Put your topic question into the title of the paper. The question should go to the merits of the Turing Test as a measure of machine intelligence, or to the merits of Searle's Chinese Room argument against strong AI. I'll give some example questions in class.
While these papers will be on Turing and Searle, they are not primarily intepretive. The purpose is not merely to understand Turing and Searle, but to decide whether they are right.
The final paper is like the Turing Test and Chinese Room papers in that you ask a question, answer it, and argue for your answer. However, in this case the paper is longer, the topic question is due in writing about a week before the paper, and the topic is unrestricted provided it falls into the general area of the philosophy of A.I. Please avoid topics in the engineering of A.I.
In all three graded papers for this course, I want your thoughts in answer to your question. While interpretating our texts is not primary in these papers, it will occasionally be necessary. When you do interpret authors (such as Turing and Searle for the first two papers), be clear, accurate, fair, and document your claims with textual evidence, as usual.
You will almost always be able to give a better answer to your topic question, and a stronger argument for your answer, if you read what other people have written on your topic and take their arguments into account. So for all three papers, library and/or web research is recommended but not required. If you do consult other works, cite them in a bibliography.
See my generic hand-out for details on paper mechanics, lateness, rewrites, and the option of having me grade your paper by email.
If you submit a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your final paper, then I will mail it to you during the break. If you only have your campus mail box number on the paper, then I will mail it to your campus box. If you do neither, I will hold it for you to pick up next fall.
This a seminar where discussion is paramount. I expect everyone to be be up to date in the reading, and to speak voluntarily, every day.
Every Tuesday (except for Weeks 1 and 11), a student will start class by writing on the board the five most important propositions asserted by the author in the reading for that day. For more details, see the opening propositions hand-out. Tuesday slots will be assigned first-come, first-served. If the enrollment is too large for everyone to go solo, then some will work in teams of two.
Every Friday (except for Weeks 1, 2, 7, 11), a pair of students will make a presentation and lead discussion for the first half of class. The presentation should take 15 minutes, and offer a reading of the text assigned for that day. The presenters should then lead discussion for about half an hour on the issues raised in the day's text. (After about 45 minutes, I'll make a transition and lead the rest of the period.) There is much room for creativity in this assignment. For more details, see the presentation and discussion-leading hand-out. Friday slots will be assigned first-come, first-served. If the enrollment is too low, then I'll ask some students to go twice (extra credit for this); if it's too high, then some teams will have to have three students in them.
I hope to make use of electronic discussion to continue and deepen our in-class discussions. I've set up an email list for this course. If you send an email to the list, then everyone in class receives a copy automatically. To use the list, simply send email to mima or email@example.com. For answers to common questions about using such a list, see my electronic discussion hand-out.
Both electronic and in-class participation count in the final grade. The chief elements of in-class participation are attendance, preparation for class, performance in discussion, and your days as opening proposition giver and as presenter and discussion leader.
Return to the course home-page.
Peter Suber, Department of Philosophy, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, 47374.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright © 2001, Peter Suber.