Emergence, Intelligence, and Complexity

Instructor: Dr. Mark Lewis

Office and Contact Info: HAS 201K, 999-7022, (This is thie best way to reach me most of the time.)

Office Hours: 9:30am-11:00am TR, 4:30pm-6:00pm T, 2:00pm-6:00pm W, or by appointment.

Texts: "Emergence"; "Godel, Escher, Bach"; "The Emperor's New Mind"; "The Age of Spiritual Machines"; "Are We Spiritual Machines?"

Description: This course is really a course in aspects of the philosophy of computer science. The primary aspect of CS that we will be exploring is the question of Strong AI, that is the assumption that computers can reproduce human intelligence. The readings for this class (which are all required) will approach this question from a number of different directions. The readings sample authors who fall on each side of this question. The readings also hit on some of the new areas of understanding that are shaping the direction of CS and are becoming central to the debate of strong AI; in particular, complexity and the emergent behaviors that are assoicated with it.

The class sessions will be run in a discussion format. Each student is expected to arrive in class with two questions written (or typed). These questions should be interesting discussion questions related to the topic for that days reading. These can either be things that the student would like to have clarified, or things that they are interested in hearing more opinions on and they will be used to direct the discussion. The quality of these questions will not only dictate the quality of the in class discussion, but it will be used as a significant aspect of your class grade.

Grading: Your grade for this class will come from 5 papers and class participation. The first 4 papers will each contribute 10% of your final grade. The final paper and class participation, based largely on the quality of your discussion questions, will each count for 30% of your grade.

Honor Code: If you entered Trinity under the honor code them all items that you turn in to me for this class, including discussion questions, must be pledged.

Schedule: The table below gives the readings and due dates during the semester. The final paper is due Tuesday, 12/12.

Date Reading Due
8/29 Emergence, Ch. 1-3  
9/5 Emergence, Ch. 4-7  
9/12 Godel, Escher Bach, 1-4 Paper 1
9/19 Godel, Escher Bach, 5-9  
9/26 Godel, Escher Bach, 10-15  
10/3 Godel, Escher Bach, 16-20  
10/10 The Emperor's New Mind, 1-3 (DPS, No Class)  
10/17 The Emperor's New Mind, 4-5 Paper 2
10/24 The Emperor's New Mind, 6-8  
10/31 The Emperor's New Mind, 9-10  
11/7 The Age of Spiritual Machines, Ch. 1-6 Paper 3
11/14 The Age of Spiritual Machines, Ch. 7-Epilogue  
11/21 Are We Spiritual Machines?, Introduction, 1, 2, 6 Paper 4
11/28 Are We Spiritual Machines?, 3, 7, 4, 8  
12/5 Are We Spiritual Machines?, 5, 9, 10