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AI and the Future of the Human

HNRS 3025 Sec. 060 - Spring 2023

Associate Professor Deborah Goldgaber Department of Philosophy and Relgious Studies

M 3:30 PM - 6:30 PM
218 French House

This course focuses on philosophical questions tied to advances in technology, in particular artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and Machine Learning (ML), and how they affect the future of distinctively human forms of life. We will ask the following sorts of philosophical questions:

Metaphysics: What is the nature of intelligent and sentient life, and what sorts of systems can instantiate it? Do artificial life and artificial intelligence imply radically new forms of existence, or are they continuous with their analog counterparts? If we are heading for a post-human future, how should we understand this “post-”?

Existentialist/Ethics: Are such technologies (AI/ML) an extinction threat for humanity—as some theorists of The Singularity suggest—or a new horizon for human survival? Can and should we preserve recognizably human forms of life, or should we instead embrace our ‘cyborg’ futures, relinquishing attempts to maintain the human as distinct from its technological ‘prosthesis’?

Social/Political: Does the rise of advanced forms of AI require transformations to human systems of law? If so what kind? Do recent uses of AI in 'architectures of control' irrevocably threaten civil liberties? What ought to be the response from governing bodies and civil society?

In this interdisciplinary and multi-media course, we will read texts both contemporary and classic, from Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto,” and Searle’s “Minds, Brains, Programs” to cutting-edge work by legal scholars, scientists, philosophers, and writers, including Kurtzweil, Cathy O’Neil, and Kazuo Ishiguro. In each class meeting, we will engage relevant media and interlocutors, not limited to films, AI- and ML driven applications and games, and specialized GPT-3 trained philosopher-bots.