## Jupyter at Bryn Mawr College

Public notebooks: /services/public/dblank / ESEM Humanity and Technology / 2014-Fall

# Humanity and Technology: Speculations from science and fiction¶

## Overview¶

In this seminar, students explore predictions from science and science fiction on the relationships between humanity and technology. Specifically, we will be exploring the idea of the Singularity---the point in time when technology eclipses human mental and physical abilities. We will read and write about artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics and how these technologies could affect all aspects of our human existence: spiritual, environmental, political, economic, entertainment, social, biological, and more. As we anticipate the point of the Singularity, we will explore the possibility of intelligent robots. Will they help us, or will they harm us?

To my mind, emergence is a theme that runs through these topics. Emergence has been described in various ways. One of my favorites is "when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." We will explore this idea as it relates to intelligence (natural and artificial) and also to writing.

We also have an associated author and speaker as part of this seminar. She is Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction. We will read this book, and explore how the ideas of extinction could be affected by AI and robotics.

## General information¶

Section: 22
Course website: http://cs.brynmawr.edu/esem/
Class Number: 2639
Professor: Douglas Blank, http://cs.brynmawr.edu/~dblank/
Office: Park Science, Room 248
Office phone: (610)526-6501
Office hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 2:30-3:30
When: Tuesday and Thursday 11:25am - 12:45pm
Where: Park Science Building, Room 328
Course Management System: http://moodle.brynmawr.edu

## Course Goals¶

• to study and practice the art and craft of writing with a thesis
• to understand writing as a personal process
• to develop critical analysis skills
• to develop and refine techniques for reading and writing
• to learn how to use sources
• to explore artificial intelligence and robotics
• to learn to write individually and in cooperative groups

## Resources¶

We will be using the following books:

1. The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, by Ray Kurzweil. Available at the bookstore.
2. Writing with Sources, by Gordon Harvey. I will provide you with a copy.
3. The Sixth Extinction: An unnatural history, by Elizabeth Kolbert. I will provide you with a copy.
4. Robot Uprisings edited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams. Available at the bookstore.

Web resources:

1. The Purdue OWL - Online Writing Lab.
2. Jupyter Project at Bryn Mawr College - data-driven visualizations and writing

## General Requirements¶

• Four rough drafts of formal essays
• Four completed formal essays
• Four short writing assignments

In addition, we will write a book together. Although we only have 14 weeks, we will plan on developing (through our shorter writings) a compilation with a coherent plotline. Together we will develop a process towards this end.

## Details on the Singularity¶

Occasionally, you may see a line such as the following in a handout or class presentation. These are little bits of computer programming. The following display the wikipedia article below it:

In [1]:
from IPython.display import IFrame
IFrame("http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity", "100%", 300)

Out[1]:

## Schedule¶

     September              October               November              December
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa  Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa  Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa  Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
1  2  3  4  5  6            1  2  3  4                     1      1  2  3  4  5  6
7  8  9 10 11 12 13   5  6  7  8  9 10 11   2  3  4  5  6  7  8   7  8  9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20  12 13 14 15 16 17 18   9 10 11 12 13 14 15  14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27  19 20 21 22 23 24 25  16 17 18 19 20 21 22  21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30              26 27 28 29 30 31     23 24 25 26 27 28 29  28 29 30 31
30

Week Dates Topic For Class
1 Tues 9/2 Intro Get books
Thurs 9/4 Discuss Robot Uprisings, part 1 Read "Robot Uprisings", part 1: Complex God
2 Tues 9/9 Pair writing Short Assignment 1 due
Thurs 9/11 Discussion Read "Robot Uprisings", part 2: Cycles, Lullaby, 80 miles an hour all the way to paradise
3 Tues 9/16 Discussion Singularity, part 1: ch 1 and 2
Thurs 9/18 Discussion Paper 1, rough draft due
4 Tues 9/23 Discussion Singularity, part 2: ch 3 and 4
Thurs 9/25 Discussion Short Assignment 2 due
5 Tues 9/30 Discussion Singularity, part 3: ch 5 and 6
Thurs 10/2 Discussion Paper 1, final due
6 Tues 10/7 Discussion Singularity, part 4: ch 7 and 8
Thurs 10/9 Discussion Paper 2, rough draft due
7 Tues 10/14 Fall break! no assignments
Thurs 10/16 Fall break! no assignments
8 Tues 10/21 Discussion Read Sixth Extinction, ch 1 through 5
Thurs 10/23 Discussion Read Sixth Extinction, ch 5 through 9
9 Tues 10/28 Discussion Paper 2, final due
Thurs 10/30 Discussion Short Assignment 3 due
10 Tues 11/4 Discussion Read Sixth Extinction, ch 10 through 13
Thurs 11/6 Discussion Paper 3, rough draft due
11 Mon 11/10 Lecture Elizabeth Kolbert, 7:30pm
Tues 11/11 Discussion Singularity, part 5: ch 9
Thurs 11/13 Discussion Short Assignment 4 due
12 Tues 11/18 Discussion Read "Robot Uprisings", part 3: Executable, The Omnibot Incident, Epoch, Human Intelligence
Thurs 11/20 Discussion Read "Robot Uprisings" part 4: The Golden Hour, Sleepover, Seasoning, Nanonauts!
13 Tues 11/25 Discussion Paper 3, final due
Thurs 11/27 Thanksgiving! no assignments
14 Tues 12/2 Discussion Paper 4, rough draft due
Thurs 12/4 Discussion Read "Robot Uprisings" part 5: Of Dying Heroes, The Robot and the Baby, We are all misfit toys
15 Tues 12/9 Discussion Read "Robot Uprisings" part 6: Spider the Artist, Small Things
Thurs 12/11 Summary Paper 4, final due

Important dates:

• End of Add/Drop Period (at 4pm) - Wednesday, September 10, 2014
• 5th Course Drop Ends - Friday, September 19, 2014
• CR/NC Deadline for Semester Classes (5pm) - Friday, October 10, 2014
• Fall Break Starts (after last class) - Friday, October 10, 2014, through Sunday, October 19, 2014
• Last Day of Classes- Thursday, December 11, 2014

## Experiment¶

One of the ideas from this seminar is that when things change exponentially, we able to make very good predictions or have very good expectations.

Here is a thought experiment: if you are given a penny on day one, and two pennies on day two, and four pennies on day three, and continue doubling the amount, how much total money will you have at the end of the month?

In [21]:
total = 0
for day in range(15):
pay = 2 ** day
total = total + pay
print("Day #{} Pay today: ${:,}, Total${:,}".format(day + 1, pay/100.0, total/100.0))
print ("Total amount for month: $%s" % "{:,}".format(total/100.0))  Day #1 Pay today:$0.01, Total $0.01 Day #2 Pay today:$0.02, Total $0.03 Day #3 Pay today:$0.04, Total $0.07 Day #4 Pay today:$0.08, Total $0.15 Day #5 Pay today:$0.16, Total $0.31 Day #6 Pay today:$0.32, Total $0.63 Day #7 Pay today:$0.64, Total $1.27 Day #8 Pay today:$1.28, Total $2.55 Day #9 Pay today:$2.56, Total $5.11 Day #10 Pay today:$5.12, Total $10.23 Day #11 Pay today:$10.24, Total $20.47 Day #12 Pay today:$20.48, Total $40.95 Day #13 Pay today:$40.96, Total $81.91 Day #14 Pay today:$81.92, Total $163.83 Day #15 Pay today:$163.84, Total $327.67 Total amount for month:$327.67


Thanks to Jennefer Callaghan for many ideas used in this course design.