INSTRUCTOR: Rhona Trauvitch


SCHEDULE: Wednesday, 11:00AM-12:15PM (HYBRID)

Course Description

This course is an interdisciplinary adventure in Westworld.  Our core material is the first season of the television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy (2016), a tapestry of science fiction, philosophy, narratology, and machine learning.

Our course’s overarching question is What is the difference between the park’s hosts (androids) and guests (humans)?  Over the course of the semester we hope students will come to realize that this difference is not nearly as large, solid, or obvious as may appear. Since we are indeed comparing, the theme of the course is fungibility and to learn about this theme we will study the philosophy of analogy.

By exploring the interchangeability of human and android, students will face the murky ethics that potentially permeate advances in machine learning. Though in reality we are nowhere near creating artificial consciousness (and some say we will never get there), the speculative exercises this course offers are invaluable to students’ understanding of themselves, each other, and the increasingly complex ecosystem of our world.