What Do Machines Know? – 36423/36424 – PHIL-172

Professor: James Mattingly

Course Description:

Philosophy is about finding our place in the world, and when the world changes rapidly, established views need rethinking. Historically, the locus of thought, and of knowledge, in the world was humans – and by extension certain non-human animals. Such a picture constrained answers to questions of the sort: “What is it to know?” “What is it to think?” The existence, or coming into existence, of machines that think and of methods of creating, storing, and manipulating information that is crucial for our own thinking, as individuals and as groups, requires new answers to these questions. Indeed, if machines can think, what can’t?  This course explores the possibility of answering these questions. We look at some classic and some novel attempts to characterize knowing and thinking, and we test out those and our own on standard and also on puzzling cases: viruses; plants; artificial intelligence; humans; factories; etc.

  • Categories:
    2019 Fall Semester, Humanity + Technology, Humanity and Technology Fall 2019, Philosophy
  • Fall

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