Philosophy and AI

Philosophy and AI text overlaying code and cartoon books and philosophers


Academic Team:
Ramón Alvarado (
First-Year Experience Seminar Instructor
Lily Spurgat  (
FIG Assistant

9 credits
UGST 109 First Year Experience Seminar –1 Credit 
CRN:16528: R: 2:00PM-2:50PM, TYKE 240  
DCSI 101 Foundation Data Science – 4 Credits CRN: 11680: TR: 4:00PM-5:20PM, PAC 123, +LAB CRN: 11682, F: 11:00AM-12:50PM, LIL 275  
PHIL 130 Philosophy and Pop Culture – 4 Credits CRN: 14371: TR: 12:00PM-1:20PM, GSH 123, +LAB CRN: 14374: F: 1:00PM-1:50PM, LA 166 
About the FIG:

The recent advent of large language models such as generative pre-trained transformers (GPTs), and particularly their user-friendly interfaces, has made the term AI a household name. We hear and read about the promises and the dangers of AI in the news, social media, and even our courses. Often, these dangers and promises are communicated—by both the hype and the panic advocates—under the assumption that the ubiquity of this technology is all but inevitable: our phones already use it to optimize their photographic zoom capabilities; it is being used to hire, fire, admit or surveil us; it can write essays and emails for us; it can guide missiles, diagnose, recognize, and analyze; while it can also illustrate better than most us, converse, and perhaps even reason, better than us.  

In short, AI seems to already be everywhere or on its way there. And yet, what AI is, what its origins are in the history of technical artifacts, or how exactly it does what it seems to do seems to remain elusive to most of us. In this FIG we will ponder and discuss the philosophical ideas at the heart of AI (e.g., logicism, Turing machines, Turing tests, automation, etc.) while drawing from concepts in data science (e.g., machine learning, data analysis, etc.) to better inform our understanding of what AI really is and hence, hopefully, better understand the challenges we face as we integrate this technology into our lives. 

DCSI 101 Foundation Data Science - CoreEd or major satisfying course

This course utilizes a quantitative approach to explore fundamental concepts in data science. Students will develop key skills in programming and statistical inference as they interact with real-world data sets across a variety of domains. Ethical ramifications of data collection, data-driven decision making, and privacy will be explored. This course is intended to be accessible to students without prior experience in computer programming or statistics.

PHIL 130 Philosophy & Pop Culture - CoreEd or major satisfying course

The undertaking of philosophy, in its broadest and most inclusive sense, is the pursuit of a disciplined and self-reflexive examination of life--a self-conscious grappling with general and particular questions of worth, meaning, and knowledge, that have, at least since the time of Socrates, underwritten and reflected our understanding of ourselves as self-creating and self-determining beings. The recent widespread recognition that nearly all of our lives are now conditioned and informed by popular or mass culture has prompted an increasing engagement with it both as a phenomenon in general, and with the wide range of its products, by philosophers of all major schools, traditions, and disciplinary divisions.
The aim of this course is to enable students to engage in critical reflection central to the discipline of philosophy--that which would facilitate living an "examined life"--about, in, and through popular culture. Students will be empowered with critical capacity in relation to that with which they interact on a daily basis---films, television, graphic novels, pop music, online media, sports and games, and so on---and in respect to the most profound and general questions that confront us all. Therefore Philosophy and Popular Culture satisfies the criteria for the Arts and Letters group requirement.

Meet your FIG Assistant and Instructor!