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Instructor: Will Kanwischer. This course meets TR 8:00 – 9:15 a.m. in DE 206.

This course is focused on the moral dimensions of technology and its development. Our goal will be to think through a number of difficult ethical problems presented by recent advances in artificial intelligence, gene-editing, algorithmic decision-making, and virtual simulation. These problems include, among others: do large language models and other artificial intelligence systems pose an existential threat to humanity? What kinds of constraints (if any) should the government impose on the development of artificial intelligence? Can a computer program have moral rights? Is it permissible to genetically engineer “designer babies”? Should we try to make ourselves immortal or end ageing? Is it morally wrong to play realistic, violent video games? Together as a class, we will evaluate answers given by philosophers and scientists to these questions with the aim of coming to our own conclusions.

The course may be of particular interest to students considering a career in technology or research, but all students will get an opportunity to improve their skills in writing, reading, and critical thinking.