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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.

This course addresses the questions and contexts from which AI has emerged, as well as those surrounding current developments. We will provide an overview of the many facets of artificial intelligence and including its various methods and technologies (from classical symbolic AI to deep learning).

The course will introduce students to foundational and normative questions, such as:

  • How should we define and measure an artificial intelligence?
  • How can we evaluate the accomplishments of AI systems? more generally, what are machines really capable of achieving?
  • Would machine intelligence, if there is such a thing, be something comparable to human intelligence or something quite different?
  • What might be the benefits and risks of relying on such systems?

Related to this are long-standing philosophical questions concerning the possibility of creating machines with consciousness, desires and emotions, with common sense, and with creativity.

Recent developments in AI 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, for example those 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, the aforementioned questions will be addressed in class discussions following lectures by Drs Facchini and Smith. The course will also include presentations of relevant papers by the students themselves. In addition to actively participate to the debates, students are expected to submit a final short essay on a chosen topic.


Video description available: here



Facchini A.

Docente titolare del corso

Smith B.

Docente titolare del corso

Informazioni aggiuntive

Anno accademico
Offerta formativa
Master of Arts in Philosophy, Corso a scelta, 1° anno
Master of Arts in Philosophy, Corso a scelta, 2° anno
Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence, Corso a scelta, 1° anno
Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence, Corso a scelta, 2° anno