Philosophical Zombies and Super-Intelligent Robots (PHI2106.01) (day/time updated as of 10/6/2023)

Catherine McKeen

There is a 3 lb. grayish-white, fatty organ inhabiting your skull. All of your thoughts, dreams, hopes, beliefs, and memories originate, in some way, in this organ. But how does this meat in your head think? How is your brain capable of having conscious experiences? How does your brain allow you to taste a strawberry or hear more cowbell? And, don’t look now, but the singularity – the tipping point where AI evolves beyond human capacity and control – is nigh. What does the evolution of non-biological super-intelligence mean for thinking meat like us? This seven-week course is an introduction to the philosophy of mind centered on two main issues: (1) how does conscious experience fit into a material world? (2) how should humans respond to super-intelligent AI systems? Readings include work in recent and contemporary philosophy of mind and AI ethics, such as by: Kathleen Akins, Nick Bostrom, David Chalmers, Frank Jackson, Hedda Hassel Mørch, Thomas Nagel, and Susan Schneider.

It is recommended that students have taken a philosophy class prior to enrolling in this class, but not a requirement. Interested students can also email the instructor.


Learning Outcomes:
• Engage thoughtfully with a range of philosophical views
• Analyze philosophical views and arguments
• Develop understanding of foundational concepts in philosophy

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 2
T/F 2:10PM - 4:00PM (1st seven weeks)
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: 2000 , All courses , Day/Time Changes , First Seven Week , Fully In-Person , Philosophy , Two Credit , Updates