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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Undergraduate Course: Topics in Artificial Intelligence (PHIL10234)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will cover philosophical questions relating to artificial intelligence, providing students the opportunity to understand key issues in the rapidly emerging field of Philosophy of AI. To examine these issues, the course will draw on Philosophical Ethics, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Action, and Philosophy of Wellbeing.
Course description The aim of this course is to introduce students to a range of philosophical issues which arise from current and future artificial intelligence (AI).

Most class time will be discussion and activity focused. As such, students are expected to have done the readings before class. During class, students will work in small teams to answer a question (approximately 1 per team) based on the reading for the week. They may be instructed to argue for a particular case (pro or contra). They may be asked to assess the merits of a given view. They may be asked to look for counterexamples to a generalisation or fallacies with a specific argument. In second part of the class, we will come together to discuss what each group has achieved to see how it helps us to answer our questions.

Some representative topics include:
- Can AI systems have agency? Can they be responsible for their actions?
- When is using AI good or bad for someone's personal wellbeing?
- Is AI a threat or an opportunity for democracy?
- Do future AI systems pose an existential threat to humanity?
- Should we focus on existing ethical problems with AI, or more speculative future issues?
- What is algorithmic bias, and what can be done about it?
- Do current or potential future AI systems think?
- Do Large Language Models (LLMs) mean what they say?
- Can AI be truly creative?
- What is the ethical status of AI therapists, or AI lovers?
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Mind, Matter and Language (PHIL08014) OR Knowledge and Reality (PHIL08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students studying on MA Cognitive Science (Humanities) are permitted to take this course without having met the pre-requisites of Mind, Matter and Language and Knowledge and Reality. However, it is advisable that students discuss the suitability of the course with their PT and the course organiser before enrolling.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have completed at least 3 Philosophy courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  46
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 193 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Mid-term essay 30% - Coursework style essay written at home«br /»
Final essay 65% - Coursework style essay written at home«br /»
Participation 5% - Based on sufficient contribution to pre-tutorial questions and to in-person group discussions
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of philosophical issues involved in artificial intelligence
  2. Demonstrate familiarity with relevant examples of AI systems
  3. Demonstrate ability to bring philosophical considerations to bear in practical contexts
  4. Demonstrate skills in research, analysis, and argumentation
Reading List
A representative reading list for this course:

- Anderson, M., Anderson, S. L. (Eds.) (2011), Machine Ethics, Cambridge University Press
- Bostrom, N. (2014), Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, Oxford University Press
- Coeckelbergh, M. (2022) The Political Philosophy of AI: An Introduction. Cambridge/Polity Press
- Lin, P. (Ed.), (2017), Robot Ethics 2.0. Oxford University Press
- Russel, S. (2019) Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control. Viking
- Vallor, S. (2016) Technology and the Virtues, A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting. Oxford University Press
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Mindset: Enquiry and Understanding, Outlook and Engagement; Skills: Research and Enquiry, Personal and intellectual autonomy
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr Giles Howdle
Course secretaryMs Catriona Keay
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