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PHI 104 — Minds and Machines: A Philosophical Exploration of AI and Consciousness

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: On-campus (About Formats)
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Jun 29—Aug 17
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jul 1
Unit: 1
Tuition: $440
Instructor(s): Forrest Hartman
Class Recording Available: No
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jun 29—Aug 17
8 weeks
Refund Date
Jul 1
1 Unit
Forrest Hartman
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Attempts to create intelligent machines raise philosophical questions about the criteria for evaluating how intelligence, consciousness, and thinking could apply to machines of our own making. What is human thought? What is consciousness? What is intelligence? Can the dynamics of human thought be replicated? These are the fundamental questions that the field of artificial intelligence (AI) has to grapple with. We will begin by considering the Turing test, which modeled the brain as a computer in a primitive attempt to evaluate intelligence. Soon viewed as too reductionist, the Turing test quickly lost favor as philosophers turned to suggesting a more phenomenological way of seeing the question, drawing on the work of Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty and the concepts of “situation” and “embodiment.” We will look at how the latest innovation in AI, which is behind today’s self-driving cars, tries to incorporate the concerns of this phenomenological approach.

Specific topics we will cover include John Searle’s Chinese Room Argument, the frame problem, and why AI has not lived up to its expectations. Readings will include selections from What Computers Still Can’t Do by Hubert Dreyfus, Out of Our Heads by Alva Noë, and Searle's The Mystery of Consciousness.

Senior Adjunct, Critical Studies Program, California College of the Arts

Forrest Hartman’s research interests are based in the history of ideas and cultural studies, especially the relationship between the sciences and the humanities. He received a PhD in rhetoric/philosophy from UC Berkeley and a PhD in evolutionary biology from the University of Michigan.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Stuart M. Shieber, The Turing Test: Verbal Bahavior as the Hallmark of Intelligence (ISBN 978-0262692939)
(Required) Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (ISBN 978-0198739838)
(Required) Jerry Japlan, Artificial Intelligence: What Everyone Needs to Know (ISBN 978-0190602390)
(Required) Alva Noe, Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness (ISBN 978-0809016488)
(Recommended) Wendell Wallach & Colin Allen, Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong (ISBN 978-0199737970)
(Recommended) John R Searle, Philosophy in a New Century: Selected Essays (ISBN 978-0521731584)