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 CS22a is to equip students with the intellectual tools, ethical foundation, and psychological framework to successfully navigate the coming age of intelligent machines.

Instructor:     Jerry Kaplan

Course Stats

Grades: Pass/No Credit only
Credits: 1
Lectures: 80 minutes per week
Homework: Occasional Reading


Date Topic Reading
April 6 Introduction and Course Overview Watch this cool YouTube video.
April 13 The History and Philosophy of AI
April 20 Upload or Die:
Identity and the Concept of Self
April 27 Meet the New Boss:
The Economics of Intelligent Automation
May 4 The Devil Made Me Do It:
Robot Crime and Punishment
"How Should the Law Think About Robots?", Neil M.Richards and William Smart
May 11 Never Mind:
The Case Against Artificial Intelligence
"Minds, Brains, and Programs", Searle, 1980 and "Understanding, Orientations, and Objectivity", Winograd, 2002
May 18 Designing Skynet:
Computational Ethics and Military Applications of AI
"The Robotics Revolution", Peter Singer, 2012
May 25 Social Impact and Ethics of AI Guest Lecturer: Steve Omohondro -
Dr. Omohondro founded Possibility Research and Self-Aware Systems
to develop beneficial intelligent technologies.
He has degrees in Physics and Mathematics from Stanford
and a Ph.D. in Physics from Berkeley.
He's done internationally recognized work on AI safety
and strategies for its beneficial development.
June 1 ***NO CLASS - RESCHEDULED TO June 8***
June 8 Get an Artificial Life:
A Future History of AI
***Attendance at this class is OPTIONAL!***