SOC 12
Artificial Intelligence: What a Concept! Winter 2022

Cross-listed SOC 12 / STS 12
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

Computer scientists coined the term “artificial intelligence” in the 1950s, and the idea of a digitally fabricated mind has been stirring people’s hopes and fears ever since. Will an artificial intelligence bring humanity to perfection, or will it exterminate us? Will it steal our jobs, or make them more fulfilling? Will it resemble us, or be entirely alien? In this course, we will examine society’s evolving conceptions of AI, from early fantasies of robot invasions to contemporary speculations about machine learning and the approach of a post-human world. We’ll trace the history of efforts to develop AI and the public’s responses to them, with a special focus on discerning what our reactions to AI tell us about our conceptions of ourselves–our minds, our bodies, our destiny. In addition to considering scholarly and journalistic explorations of artificial intelligence, we’ll examine how androids and other “thinking machines” have been portrayed in movies, fiction, and art. The course will meet for two hours three times a week, and the class sessions will be supplemented by readings and viewings.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 20
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: 10-page paper
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: preference will be given to Sociology majors and Science and Technology Studies concentrators
Materials/Lab Fee: none
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
SOC 12 STS 12

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