Beyond the human: exploring philosophy of artificial intelligence and life

Course Dates: 26/07/18 - 16/08/18
Time: 12:30 - 14:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutor: John Goff

The fields of synthetic biology and artificial life are merging with artificial intelligence to put our conceptions of what it is to be human in doubt. What are the consequences of thinking ‘beyond the human’?


What is the course about?

An exploration over four sessions of the ideas 1) that a human-centred understanding of life and intelligence is not only limited but limiting and 2) that as a species we are in the early stages of altering ourselves by ‘design’ and moving beyond being ‘human’.

What will we cover?

The following are the key topics, which will overlap over the sessions:

1) Artificial Humans. What are some of the uses and consequences of developing artificial humans (i.e., robots, androids/gynoids that look and ‘behave’ like humans)?

2) Hive/Hybrid minds. As the boundaries between human and machine are blurred, human-beings are augmented by multiple server systems and incorporated as components in wide scale non-human distributed intelligence systems. What sense of purpose, meaning and value arises from this ‘artificial social’.

3) Artificial Life & Living Machines. Is there a legitimate boundary between the living and the non-living, between the organic and the mechanistic? What are the implications of this boundary being erased?

4) Synthetic organisms. As bio-engineering and related disciplines develop it may become possible to create diverse organisms to order. What sorts of synthetic organisms might be created or self-created, designed and desired?

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

Examine, simply, the distinction between the living and the non-living.

Discuss the value of diverse aspects of post-human worlds.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

No special knowledge or skills are required other than intellectual interest in the subject and curiosity.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The sessions will run in a seminar format with short slide-based presentations and Q&A and discussion (small groups may be used if there are a large number of participants on the course). No work outside class.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Only note-making equipment of your own choice.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Philosophy courses related to existentialism, ethics, technology.

General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Book your place

Course Code: HP106

Thu, day, 26 Jul - 16 Aug '18

Duration: 4 sessions (over 4 weeks)

Full fee: £79.00
Senior fee: £63.00
Concession: £35.00
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Please note: Different fees may apply for international students. Read full guidance.