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Seminar in Cognitive Neuroscience: A Neuroscience Perspective of Artificial Intelligence

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Course Number
PSYC 549 640
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Course Description
This seminar course asks what would be required to achieve Strong Artificial Intelligence, also referred to as Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), in light of what we know about the emergence of life and mind in the universe.  Specifically, we will consider the question whether it is possible for machines to become self-aware by asking what Natural Intelligence is and considering what it implies about whether and how AGI can be achieved. To grapple with this question, in Part I of the course we will examine what is known about the emergence of Natural Intelligence in the universe.  This study includes the phenomena of: (1) Abiogenesis; (2) Signal Transduction as the Mechanism of Stimulus-Response Coupling in Unicellular Organisms; (3) The Evolution of the Metazoa during the Cambrian Explosion; (4) The Evolution of the Vertebrates; (5) The Evolution of the Vertebrate Central Nervous System; (6) The Evolution of the Hominin Brain and Mechanisms of Synaptic Plasticity; (7) Higher-Order Thinking and Epistemology.   Part I will be primarily in lecture format, with the expectation that students will participate in class discussions.  A short-answer, mid-term exam will cover topics from Part I.  Part II of the course will be entirely focused on student presentations and student-led discussions on topics and readings selected from the following areas: (8) Theories of Consciousness; (9) The Fluidity of Mind Embodiment in Humans / The Nervous System and Mind of the Octopus; (10) The History of AI; (11) Neural Networks and Machine Learning; (12) Duplicating Brain Hardware (neuromorphic and other novel chip technologies); (13) Nanotechnology and Quantum Computing; (14) Student Selected Topic(s).  Students will submit final term papers based on the topic they each choose to present and lead. 

Subject Area Vocab