Philosophy and Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the subfield of Computer Science devoted to developing programs that enable computers to display behavior that can (broadly) be characterised as intelligent. On the strong version, the ultimate goal of AI is to create an artificial system that is as intelligent as a human being. Recent striking successes such as AlphaGo have convinced many not only that this objective is obtainable but also that in a not too distant future machines will become even more intelligent than human beings.
The actual and possible developments in AI open up a series of striking questions such as:
- Can a computer have a conscious mind,
- Can it have desires and emotions?
- Would machine intelligence, if there is such a thing, be something comparable to human intelligence or something quite different?
In addition, these developments make it possible for us to consider a series of philosophical questions in a new light, including:
- What is personal identity? Could a machine have something like a personal identity? Would I really survive if the contents of my brain were uploaded to the cloud?
- What is it for a human to behave in an ethical manner? (Could there be something like machine ethics? Could machines used in fighting wars be programmed to behave ethically?)
- What is a meaningful life? If routine, meaningless work in the future is performed entirely by machines, will this make possible new sorts of meaningful lives on the part of humans?
After introducing the relevant ideas and tools from both AI and philosophy, all the aforementioned questions will be thoroughly addressed in class discussions following lectures by Drs Facchini and Smith and presentations of relevant papers by the students.