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PHI 104 — The Philosophical Foundations of Artificial Intelligence

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Jun 28—Aug 16
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Jul 11
Unit: 1
Tuition: $395
Instructor(s): Forrest Hartman
7:00—8:50 pm
Jun 28—Aug 16
8 weeks
Drop By
Jul 11
1 Unit
Forrest Hartman
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 has to grapple with. In this course, students will explore the philosophical foundations of artificial intelligence. We will begin by considering the Turing Test, which modeled the brain as a computer, as a primitive way to evaluate intelligence. Considered too reductionist, the Turing Test soon lost favor as philosophers turned to suggesting a more phenomenological way of seeing the question, one which draws on Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty and the concepts of “situation” and “embodiment.” The latest innovation in artificial intelligence, which is behind today’s self-driving cars, tries to incorporate the concerns of this phenomenological approach. Finally, we will discuss the warnings that a fully developed superintelligence, which would be many times more intelligent than we are, would constitute an existential threat.

Topics to discuss will include John Searle’s Chinese Room Argument, the frame problem, and why the artificial intelligence project has not lived up to its expectations. Readings will include selections from What Computers Still Can’t Do by Hubert Dreyfus, Artificial Intelligence: The Very Idea by John Haugeland, Out of Our Heads by Alva Noë, The Mystery of Consciousness by John Searle, and Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom.

Forrest Hartman, Senior Adjunct Professor in Critical Studies, 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 Behavior as the Hallmark of Intelligence (ISBN 978-0262692939)
(Required) Nick Bostrom, Superintelliigence: 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, Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong (ISBN 978-0199737970)
(Recommended) John R. Searle, Philosophy in a New Century: Selected Essays (ISBN 978-0521731584)