Philosophy of Technology
Andreas Kay, Orchid Bee (Euglossa, Euglossini)
|PHIL-SHU 130||567 West Yangsi Road, Room EB118||Wednesdays, 5:00pm to 7:30pm|
|Brad Weslakefirstname.lastname@example.org||567 West Yangsi Road, Room W826||By appointment|
|Anna Greenspanemail@example.com||567 West Yangsi Road, Room W847||Wednesday 1:30pm-3:30pm, or by appointment|
The fundamental question of this course is whether, and under what conditions, it makes sense to attribute minds to technological artefacts. The approach we take is to consider this question in light of much more general questions about both the nature of mind, and the extent of mental phenomena in the universe. Our hope is that by considering these general questions, the more specific questions about the minds of technological artefacts will become more tractable. The hypothesis the course explores is that the unclarities we face when considering whether, for example, current forms of artificial intelligence have minds trace back to more general unclarities about what it is to have a mind in the first place.
- Attendance and class participation.
- Online forum participation.
- Class notes.
- One oral exam.
- One 8–10 page paper.
The final grade will be determined approximately as follows:
|Attendance and class participation:||15%|
|Online forum participation:||15%|
Attendance and Lateness
Students are required to attend all classes on time. An explanation for every absence or late attendance must be submitted in writing to the instructors. Every failure to attend class on time will count against the component of the final grade awarded for attendance and participation, unless an explanation is received and approved at least one day prior to the class in question. Requests for exceptions will be considered on a case by case basis, and typically granted only when related to an illness or other unforeseeable change in life circumstance.
It is a condition on passing this course that students read and adhere to the NYU Shanghai policy on academic integrity as described in the current NYU Shanghai Academic Bulletin.
All notes, readings and assignments can be found here.
Meeting 1: The Mark of the Mental (Wednesday 1 February)
- Bayne, Tim. 2021. Philosophy of Mind: An Introduction, Routledge, New York. URI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003225348, Chapter 1, pp. 6–23.
Meeting 2: Other Minds, Inside and Out (Wednesday 8 February)
- Nagel, Thomas. 1974. “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?”, in The Philosophical Review, Vol. 83, No. 4, October, pp. 435–450. URI: http://doi.org/10.2307/2183914.
- Roelofs, Luke. forthcoming. “No Such Thing as Too Many Minds”, in Australasian Journal of Philosophy. URI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00048402.2022.2084758.
- Lawrence Lek, Black Cloud 黑云, 2021.
Meeting 3: Animal Minds (Wednesday 15 February)
- Andrews, Kristin. 2018. “Mind”, in Gruen (Ed), Critical Terms for Animal Studies, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 234–250.
- Hrdy, Sarah Blaffer. 2009. Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, Chapter 1: Apes on a Plane, pp. 1–32.
Meeting 4: Octos and Bees (Wednesday 22 February)
- Godfrey-Smith, Peter. 2013. “On Being an Octopus”, in Boston Review, pp. 46–50. URI: https://www.bostonreview.net/articles/peter-godfrey-smith-being-octopus/.
- Chittka, Lars. 2022. The Mind of a Bee, Princeton University Press, Princeton. URI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9780691236247, Introduction, pp 1–16 and Chapter 11: Do Bees Have Consciousness, pp 188–210.
Meeting 5: Plant Minds I (Wednesday 1 March)
- Segundo-Ortin, Miguel and Calvo, Paco. 2022. “Consciousness and Cognition in Plants”, in WIREs Cognitive Science, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. e1578. URI: https://doi.org/10.1002/wcs.1578.
- Myers, Natasha. 2015. “Conversations on Plant Sensing: Notes from the Field”, in NatureCulture, Vol. 3, pp. 35–66.
Meeting 6: Plant Minds II: Visit from Mileece (Wednesday 8 March)
Meeting 7: Artificial Intelligence (Wednesday 15 March)
- Katherine Hayles, Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2017, Chapter 1.
- Yann LeCun and Gary Marcus, “Does AI Need More Innate Machinery?”, 5 October 2017. URI: https://youtube.com/watch?v=vdWPQ6iAkT4
Meeting 8: Large Language Models (Wednesday 22 March)
- Murray Shanahan, “Talking About Large Language Models”, 11 December 2022. URI: https://arxiv.org/abs/2212.03551
- David Chalmers, “Are Large Language Models Sentient?”. URI: https://nips.cc/virtual/2022/invited-talk/55867
Meeting 9: Oral Exams (Wednesday 29 March)
Qingming Break (3–7 April)
Meeting 10: Alien Minds I (Wednesday 12 April)
- Lem, Stanisław.  2011. Solaris. Translated by Bill Johnston.
- Andrei Tarkovsky, Solaris, 1972. URI: https://youtube.com/watch?v=Z8ZhQPaw4rE
Meeting 11: Alien Minds II: Visit from Bogna Konior (Wednesday 19 April)
- Cirkovic, Milan. 2018. The Great Silence: The Science and Philosophy of Fermi’s Paradox, Oxford University Press, Oxford, Chapter 1: The Many Faces of Fermi’s Paradox, pp 30-71.
- Christopher Cowie, “Arguing About Extraterrestrial Intelligence”, in The Philosophical Quarterly, Volume 73, Issue 1, January 2023, pp. 64–83.
Meeting 12: Panpsychism (Wednesday 26 April)
- Goff, Philip. 2019. Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness, Pantheon, New York, Chapter 4: How to Solve the Problem of Consciousness, pp. 111–172.
- Parkes, Graham. 2009. “The Awareness of Rock: East-Asian Understandings and Implications”, in Skrbina (Ed), Mind that Abides: Panpsychism in the New Millennium, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp. 325–340. URI: https://doi.org/10.1075/aicr.75.23par.
Meeting 13: Spinoza (Wednesday 3 May)
- de Spinoza, Benedict.  2018. Ethics: Proved in Geometrical Order, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. URI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781107706972, §1–15.
- Nadler, Steven. 2006. Spinoza’s Ethics: An Introduction, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. URI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511815737, Chapter 3: On God: Substance pp. 52-84.
Meeting 14: Artificial Intelligence Reconsidered (Wednesday 10 May)
Updated: 30 January 2023