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CS122 is an expanded version of Fall 2013's CS22: History and Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence
Student presentation have been moved back to 12/2 - sorry about all the changes!

Course Summary

Recent advances in computing may place us at the threshold of a unique turning point in human history. Soon we are likely to entrust management of our environment, economy, security, infrastructure, food production, healthcare, and to a large degree even our personal activities, to artificially intelligent computer systems.

The prospect of "turning over the keys" to increasingly autonomous systems raises many complex and troubling questions. How will society respond as versatile robots and machine-learning systems displace an ever-expanding spectrum of blue- and white-collar workers? Will the benefits of this technological revolution be broadly distributed or accrue to a lucky few? How can we ensure that these systems respect our ethical principles when they make decisions at speeds and for rationales that exceed our ability to comprehend? What, if any, legal rights and responsibilities should we grant them? And should we regard them merely as sophisticated tools or as a newly emerging form of life?

The goal of CS122 is to equip students with the intellectual tools, ethical foundation, and psychological framework to successfully navigate the coming age of intelligent machines.

Course Stats

Grades: Letter grade
Credits: 3, or 4 with in-class presentation
Lectures: 2 x 75 minutes per week
Reading: 2 hours per week
Essays: 3 x 1500 words

Course Information

Instructor:     Jerry Kaplan

Course assistants:

Contact:     Please email for all questions.

Prerequisites:   None. All interested undergraduate and graduate students are welcome.

Map:     Hewlett Teaching Center Rm. 201

Lecture Videos:     Missed a lecture? Click here to see the show. (SUnet ID required.)

Preliminary Schedule

Date Topic Reading Speaker(s) Notes
Sep 23 Course Overview Watch this cool YouTube video. Kaplan
Sep 25 History and Philosophy of AI Kaplan Book Excerpt Kaplan
Sep 30 Upload or Die:
Identity and Free Will
"Can Animals and Machines be Persons?", Justin Leiber, 1985 Kaplan
Oct 2 Should you step into the Star Trek transporter? Watch this Outer Limits episode, and read "His Master's Voice", Hannu Rajaniemi Brad Templeton, Singularity University, Electronic Frontier Foundation Confirmed
Oct 7 Never Mind:
The Case Against Artificial Intelligence
"Minds, Brains, and Programs", Searle, 1980, "Computer Machinery and Intelligence", Turing, 1950 and "Understanding, Orientations, and Objectivity", Winograd, 2002 Kaplan
Oct 9 Can a Machine have a Mind? "What Your Computer Can't Know", Searle, 2014 John Searle, UC Berkeley, Philosophy Confirmed
Oct 14 Meet the New Boss: The Economics of Intelligent Automation Kaplan Book Excerpt #2 and "Manna", Chapters 1-4, Marshall Brain Kaplan
Oct 16 The Devil Made Me Do It: Robot Crime and Punishment "How Should the Law Think About Robots?", Neil M.Richards and William Smart Kaplan
Oct 21 TBA Daniel Siciliano
Stanford Law School
Oct 23 Talk to my Agent: Civilized Robots for a Human World "Autonomous technology and the greater human good", Omohundro, 2014 Kaplan
Oct 28 Autonomous Technology and the Greater Human Good Steve Omohundro, Self-Aware Systems Confirmed
Oct 30 Pay no Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain: Anthropomorphism in AI Watch the movies Robot and Frank and Her Kaplan
Nov 4 "Robot Emotion: A Functional Perspective", Cynthia Breazeal and Rodney Brooks, 2003 David Hanson, Founder, Hanson Robotics Confirmed
Nov 6 Designing Skynet:
Computational Ethics and Military Applications of AI
"Moral Predators: The Duty to Employ Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles", Bradley Jay Strawser and "The Robotics Revolution", Peter Singer, 2012 Kaplan
Nov 11 Should we deploy autonomous weapons? Patrick Lin, Ethics and Emerging Sciences Group, Cal Poly SLO Confirmed
Nov 13 Get an Artificial Life:
A Future History of AI
Nov 18 T.B.D.
Nov 20 Don't Touch that Dial: AI in Popular Media "How Humans Respond to Robots: Building Public Policy Through Good Design", Heather Knight, 2014 Kaplan
Nov 25,27 Thanksgiving Break
Dec 2 Student Presentations
Dec 4 AI and Faith Kaplan

Course Structure and Policies


The course is organized into five segments:

  1. Overview of the history and issues raised by Artificial Intelligence. (1 week)
  2. Philosophical issues. (3 weeks)
  3. Ethical problems. (3 weeks)
  4. Legal, social and economic impact. (3 weeks)
  5. Future challenges. (1 week)


You should read each week's assignment in advance of the first class of the week. This should take you at most two hours.


There will be three 1500-word essays due during the course, at the end of segments 2, 3, and 4 above, on assigned topics. (Specific due dates TBA.)

For students taking the course for four credits, individual or small-group projects will be presented to the class during the final week.

Where to find the homework assignments and due dates: These are listed on Log in using your SUNet ID. Find the course (you can search for CS 122 or SymSys 122). Click on "Assignments" in the left menu to access the assignments and due dates.

How to submit your homework: We will be using Coursework for submitting, grading and providing feedback on assignments. To submit your completed assignment (i.e. a single file containing one essay), click on "Dropbox" in the left menu, the upload your essay as a .pdf file please. Double spaced text is preferable. Please designate the file with your name and the assignment number. If the grader has specific comments, they may upload a revised version of your essay with comments. You can check back anytime to see it if has been read, graded, etc.

Late Policy

Homework is due at or before 11:59PM on the due date, which is specified in the Assignments page on Coursework. Late homework may receive a reduced grade unless arrangements are made in advance with course staff.

Honor Code

You are encouraged to talk about the homework with other students, but your final essay submissions must be your own original work.