English | INTRODUCTION TO WRITING AND THE STUDY OF LITERATURE
L142 | 1852-1857 | Kintgen


Title: "Can Computers Think?"			
Cluster Sections (no lecture)
>From HAL, the computer in the movie _2001_, to Deep Blue, which beat world
champion Garry Kasparov in a six-game match in the spring of 1997, we are
surrounded by images of computers--either fictional or real- -that can do
amazing things.  But can they think?  As soon as we ask this question, we
find ourselves in a tangle of questions at least as much about human thought
as about computers.  What is thinking?  Does it require problem solving?
Memory?  Emotion?  Consciousness?  Intention?  Physical sensation?  Is it
something minds do, or brains?  How could we tell whether something
else--human or computer--is actually thinking?  This section of L142 will
explore these questions.
Roughly half the readings will be articles relating to these questions by
scientists and philosophers, including Alan Turing, John Searle, Douglas
Hofstadter, Roger Schank, Hubert Dreyfus, and others.  The other half will
be novels on the same topic, including (depending on availability) Warwick
Collins, _Computer One_; Astro Teller, _Exegesis_ (a novel composed of email
messages); Robert Sawyer, _The Terminal Experiment_; and Richard Powers,
_Galatea 2.2_. There will be four papers and a final project.