CS009: Computers and Human Values
Department of Computer Science, Brown University
Notes, September 22nd -- Roger B. Blumberg

Robots of the Future and "Culture" in the Past

"Given fully intelligent robots, culture becomes completely independent of biology. Intelligent machines, which will grow from us, learn our skills, and initially share our goals and values, will be the children of your minds. The next chapter suggests how we parents can gracefully retire as our mind children grow beyond our imagining."
Hans Moravec, Robot, p. 126.

"Notwithstanding the mighty results of the Pilgrim Fathers' voyage, they and their standard of perfection are rightly judged when we figure to ourselves Shakspeare or Virgil, -- souls in whom sweetness and light, and all that in human nature is most humane, were eminent, -- accompanying them on their voyage, and think what intolerable company Shakspeare and Virgil would have found them!"
Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy, p. 69.

Introduction: Evaluating Robot

To give some closure to our reading of Moravec, at least for now, we'll talk about reactions to Chad's presentation on Tuesday and the ways that Moravec's vision(s) might effect some basic issues in epistemology, politics and ethics. In assessing what we think of the style or attitude of the book, we might closely read and consider the way Moravec choses to end his book (i.e. what does he make of Hamlet's words and what do we make of them?).

Situating Culture and Anarchy

Before jumping into Arnold's classic, we'll spend some time comparing notes about the mid-nineteenth century and the question of how historical context matters when we read a text like Arnold's critically. We'll consider the facts and stories that each of us has brought in, as well as the 1869 pages from a popular Chronology, and ask whether/how these things make a difference to our understanding of Arnold's writing.

We'll then to turn to the "Introduction" of Culture and Anarchy and try to "understand every word." To do so, we'll have to ask (among other things):

We can then ask whether any of the issues/questions raised by Arnold are still with us today. Specifically, we might ask about:

Sweetness and Light

With whatever time remains we'll begin to look closely at the ideas and arguments in chapter 1.

For Next Time:: Post your second (and final) response to the Robopet discussions by Friday at the end of the day. For Tuesday, read at least through chapter 3 of Culture and Anarchy.

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