Homework 3 (Spring 2022)

Answer the following prompts in a maximum of 6 pages (excluding references) in JDF format. Any content beyond 6 pages will not be considered for a grade. 6 pages is a maximum, not a target; our recommended per-section lengths intentionally add to less than 6 pages. This length is intentionally set expecting that your submission may include diagrams, drawings, pictures, etc. These should be incorporated into the body of the paper.

If you would like to include additional information beyond the word limit, you may include it in clearly-marked appendices. These materials will not be used in grading your assignment, but they may help you get better feedback from your classmates and grader.

Question 1: ~2 pages

Analogies are commonly used in scientific reasoning to leverage existing theories to explore new domains, but they are also quite often used in literature to poetically draw parallels between dramatically different ideas. As we all know, our appreciation for literature is only increased when we painstakingly tear it apart and analyze it like a chemical compound, so let’s do that here—and save pondering how to design an AI agent that can understand the sarcasm of that sentence for another day.

Select an analogy from anywhere in literature. If you have trouble thinking of one, GoodReads has a list of several famous ones that you may choose from.

Once you have selected an analogy, develop a simple model of each of the two parts of the analogy on their own—this could take the form of a frame representation, a mindmap, a diagram, a plain text description, or whatever else helps you explore the source and target in the analogy. Then, examine what the author intends to transfer from the source in the analogy to the target.

Then, rewrite the analogy with a different source but the same target. Discuss how this different source changes the target when its relationships are transferred analogically instead of the original source.

For example, when discussing the emergency transition to online teaching, I often use the analogy: “Asking someone whose training and experience are in face-to-face teaching to suddenly start teaching online is like asking a basketball player to suddenly switch to baseball.” In analyzing this analogy, we would model the source (the basketball player switching to baseball) and the target (the face-to-face teacher switching to online), then discuss what the source adds to our understanding of the target (that while there may be some commonalities in skillset, there are significant differences, and so we shouldn’t expect immediate success). Then, we would write a new analogy, such as: “Asking someone whose training and experience are in face-to-face teaching to suddenly start teaching online is like asking a stage actor to film a movie.” Then, we would evaluate who this new source changes the analogy (for example, that face-to-face teaching and stage acting both feed on the energy of a live audience).

Question 2: ~2 pages

In Why Free Will is Real by Christian List, List argues that for an agent to have free will, it must have three capacities:

  • The capacity to act intentionally;
  • The capacity to choose between alternative possibilities; and
  • The capacity to control one’s actions.

First, state whether you believe free will exists in human beings. You should briefly justify this statement, but you need not go into detail; the purpose of this is to set up the following questions.

If you argue that free will does exist in humans, then argue whether it is possible for artificially intelligent agents to also exhibit free will. If it is possible, what would it take for an artificially intelligent agent to meet the above three criteria? If it is not possible, which of the above three criteria could artificially intelligent agents never meet?

If you argue that free will does not exist in humans, then argue whether it is possible that an artificially intelligent agent should be considered deserving of equal rights as a human. If it is possible, what would it take for an artificially intelligent agent to be considered semantically comparable to a human? If it is not possible, what fundamental issues would prevent artificially intelligent agents from ever being considered comparable to humans?

In either case, your argument should not be strictly opinion-based; you should propose your own working definitions of free will, intentionality, and control, and develop your arguments about the potential humanness of AI agents from those definitions.

Submission Instructions

Complete your assignment using JDF, then save your submission as a PDF. Assignments should be submitted to the corresponding assignment submission page in Canvas. You should submit a single PDF for this  assignment. This PDF will be ported over to Peer Feedback for peer review by your classmates. If your assignment involves things (like videos, working prototypes, etc.) that cannot be provided in PDF, you should provide them separately (through OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.) and submit a PDF that links to or otherwise describes how to access that material.

This is an individual assignment. All work you submit should be your own. Make sure to cite any sources you reference, and use quotes and in-line citations to mark any direct quotes.

Late work is not accepted without advanced agreement except in cases of medical or family emergencies. In the case of such an emergency, please contact the Dean of Students.

Grading Information

Your assignment will be graded on a 20-point scale coinciding with a rubric designed to mirror the question structure. Make sure to answer every question posted by the prompt. Pay special attention to bolded words and question marks in the question text.

Peer Review

After submission, your assignment will be ported to Peer Feedback for review by your classmates. Grading is not the primary function of this peer review process; the primary function is simply to give you the opportunity to read and comment on your classmates’ ideas, and receive additional feedback on your own. All grades will come from the graders alone.

You receive 1.5 participation points for completing a peer review by the end of the day Thursday; 1.0 for completing a peer review by the end of the day Sunday; and 0.5 for completing it after Sunday but before the end of the semester. For more details, see the participation policy.