Note: This course ended on December 19, 2003

FSEM 198. Mind and Machine:
Natural and Artificial Intelligence

   Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
   Hobart and William Smith Colleges

   Fall, 2003.

   Instructor:  David J. Eck  (

   Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:45 -- 10:10 AM.
   Room Eaton 110.

   Course Handout:

Assignments in FSEM 198 and other information about the
course, will be posted on this page as the course is taught
during the Fall term of 2003.

End of Term, December 9, 11, and 19

For Tuesday, December 9, you should read the final part of Emergence, pages 195 to 234. We will spend most of the class on a review and discussion of the course as a whole. On Thursday, the last day of class, you should be prepared to talk for a minute or two about what you are doing for your final writing assignment. The assignment is due during the officially scheduled final exam period, 8:30--11:30 AM on Friday, December 19. You can bring your paper to my office during that time period. However, you do not need to be present for the exam period, and you and you can turn in your paper earlier in the week if your prefer.

End of term office hours:

Fourteenth Week, December 2 and 4

The reading for Tuesday is Part 2 of Emergence, pages 73 to 189. On Thursday, we will have our last presentation of the term; Erin Gibbs and Steve Teske will discuss the book Artificial Life by Steven Levy. Note that rewrites of the second paper will be due next Tuesday.

Twelfth and Thirteenth Week, November 18, 20, and 25

A paper is due on Tuesday, November 18. In class on that day, we will view and discuss the video "Giant Brains"; there is no reading. On Thursday, there will be a presentation by Katie McMenaman and Mike Mastro on works by Oliver Sacks. The reading for Thursday is Oliver Sacks' article, "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat."

Also on Thursday, I would like you to hand in a short statement saying what the topic of your final writing assignment will be.

The reading for next Tuesday, November 25, is the Introduction and Chapter 1 of Emergence, by Steven Johnson, pages 11 to 67. You can expect a quiz on this reading. The quiz might include a few questions on the video that will be shown in class on the 18th. There is no class on Thursday, November 27 because of Thanksgiving break.

Eleventh Week, November 11 and 13

For Tuesday, you should read the following sections from Synaptic Self: Chapter 5, pages 97--108; Chapter 7, pages 174--182 and 190--199; Chapter 8, pages 200--210. This is the last reading we will do from this book. On Thursday, there will be a presentation by Warren Cramer and Mike DePersis about Antonio Damasio's book, Descartes' Error. For next week, there is a writing assignment due on Tuesday.

Tenth Week, November 4 and 6

The reading for Tuesday of this week is Chapters 1-3 of Synaptic Self. On Thursday, there will be a presentation by Gian D'Orazio and Carrie Miller on Animal Minds. Before the presentation, you should read Chapters 7 and 8, "The Soul of Martha, a Beast" and "The Soul of the Mark III Beast", pages 100--115 in The Mind's I.

The second writing assignment will be due two weeks from Tuesday, on November 18. A description of the assignment is available. Also included is information about the final writing assignment.

Ninth Week, October 28 and 30

The reading for Tuesday of this week consists of three handouts that were distributed in class. There will be a presentation on Thursday by Brandon Carmack and Alex Caruthers on work by the sociologist Sherry Turkle.

For next week, we will begin the book Synaptic Self by Joseph LeDoux. You should read Chapters 1, 2, and 3 before next Tuesday's class.

Seventh and Eighth Weeks, October 16, 21, and 23

There is no class on Tuesday, October 14, because of Fall Break. On Thursday, October 16, Jared Owens and Liane Gray will be doing their presentation on AI in the movies.

In the following week, we will be discussing the book On the Internet, by Hubert L. Dreyfus. You should read the Introduction and first three chapters (pages 1 to 72) for Tuesday, and you should read Chapter 4 and the Conclusion (pages 73 to 107) for Thursday. There will be no presentation for this week.

Sixth Week, October 7 and 9

On Tuesday, we will discuss Chapters 4 and 5 from Moravec's ROBOT. On Thursday, we'll be hearing about another approach to building robots in the class presentation by Rashna Clubwala and Melissa Santana. There should be a short reading handed out on Tuesday in advance of the presentation.

There will only be a short reading for next week: one last section from The Cyberiad, which I will hand out in class on Thursday.

Fifth Week, September 30 and October 2

We will be looking at Robot, by Hans Moravec, for this week and the next. On Tuesday, we will discuss Chapters 1 through 3. On Thursday, we will have the first of the student presentations, Nate Owens and Jen Strong on AI, by Daniel Crevier. A short section of this book will be assigned as reading in advance of Thursday's class.

The first writing assignment is due in class on Thursday.

The reading for next Tuesday will be Chapters 4 and 5 of ROBOT, pages 91--162.

Fourth Week, September 23 and 25

This week, we will finish up The Language Instinct. We will be discussing Chapters 10 through 13 in class on Tuesday and Thursday. Before Thursday's class, you should also read "How Trurl's Perfection Led to No Good," Chapter 18 in The Mind's I.

Next week, we will start Robot: From Mere Machine to Trancendental Mind. The reading for next Tuesday is the first three chapters of this book.

Third Week, September 16 and 18

We will be covering Chapters 5 through 9 of The Language Instinct in class this week. There is no other reading. On Thursday, there will be some time for students to get together with their partners to discuss their group project. We have decided that the first project will be presented in class on October 2, rather than on September 25 as originally scheduled. Here is the list of project assignments:

      Project 1: AI                 Project 2: Flesh and Machines
        October 2                     October 9
        Nate Owen                     Rashna Clubwala
        Jennifer Strong               Melissa Santana
      Project 3: Movies             Project 4: Sherry Turkle
        October 16                    October 30
        Jared Owens                   Alex Caruthers
        Liane Gray                    Brandon Carmack
      Project 5: Animal Minds       Project 6: Descartes' Error
        November 6                    November 13
        Gian D'Orazio                 Warren Cramer
        Carrie Miller                 Mike DePersis
      Project 7: Oliver Sacks       Project 8: Artificial Life
        November 20                   December 4
        Mike Mastro                   Steve Teske
        Katie McMenaman               Erin Gibbs

Looking ahead, before Tuesday of next week, you should read the final four chapters, Chapters 10 through 13, of The Language Instinct.

Second Week, September 9 and 11

This week, we start on The Language Instinct, by Stephen Pinker. This book will occupy us for the next three weeks. It is about the mechanisms of language use and acquisition and about the idea that language is largely innate rather than learned.

Before Tuesday's class, you should read Chapters 1 through 4 of The Language Instinct. We will continue discussing this on Thursday, but for Thursday, you should also read "On Having No Head," pages 23--30 in The Mind's I

We will spend some time this week planning the "group project" part of the course. A description of possible topics will be handed out in class on Tuesday. You should look this over before Thursday.

Looking ahead, the reading for next week, September 16 and 18, will be The Language Instinct, Chapters 5 through 9.

First Week, September 2 and 4

Welcome to the course. We will begin the term with some general discussion of the nature of intelligence and the possibility of artificial intelligence. Before the first day of class, you should read Alan Turing's paper, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence," from The Mind's I. (Or, read it on-line at If you read the on-line version, you can omit sections 4, 5, and 7.)

Before Thursday's class, you should read "The Turing Test: A Coffeehouse Conversation," Chapter 5 in The Mind's I. You should also read "Trurl's Electronic Bard," which I will hand out in class on Tuesday.

Remember that there can be a quiz at the beginning of any class, covering the reading that was assignened for that class. There will not, though, be a quiz on the very first day.