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CMSC 828D: Human-Level AI and Computational Cognitive Neuroscience

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This class web page is still under construction; details are filling in little by little.

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Tues-Thurs, 12:30-1:45pm
CSIC 3118
Instructor: D. Perlis (perlis@cs.umd.edu)
Office hours: Tues-Thurs 9:30-10:30am AVW 3253

Timetable (tentative)

EXAM I Topic List

Brain and Nnet notes

This course will attempt to convey what may be involved in building artificial agents with human-level intellectual abilities. While a long-acknowledged topic of interest, progress is very slow and no overall methodology or conceptual framework has yet emerged. Moreover, the relevant research spans multiple fields (computer science, psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, sociology, etc), and multiple abilities (perception, learning, memory, goal-setting/discovery, value-setting, reasoning, planning, action, self-monitoring, language, etc).

To approach this in a non-random way, I will start with a focus on the use of words (which in one way or another impact all these fields and all these abilities) and how words have been studied in the past and present; this in turn will lead us far and wide across much of modern AI and cognitive and neural science, while still maintaining a semblance of a common thread to it all.

The format will primarily be lectures. But no one can possibly be an expert across this vast terrain, and moreover what is "known" one decade is not uncommonly found to be false the next; so vigorous discussion will be strongly encouraged. To that end, frequent readings will be assigned, and quizzes may be given to ensure the readings are done on time. There will also be two exams, and various writing assignments and class presentations.

Two required-reading books have been ordered at the University Book Center; but we will not need them for at least a month or more -- I will tell you when they have arrived. (The total cost should not be more than $30.) All the other readings will be online.


Reading Assignments

Writing assignments: Each student will be expected to write (probably) four short essays (1-3 pages, 500-1500 words), due on dates to be announced. Each such essay will be on a topic chosen from a long list that I will provide. In exceptional cases, you may include quotations in your essays, but these cannot amount to more than 50% of each essay (and in most cases should be far less, or absent altogether); and the rest must be your own ideas and analyses (not mere light re-wordings of what you have read). Moreover, each essay will be graded on how well it explains the topic, not simply whether it accurately condenses what you have read. (A good rule of thumb to use in writing an essay is this: ask yourself what you would want someone to tell you about it, so that you'd have a decent sense of what it is about and what some of the major issues are concerning it.)
4th Report-List

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Presentations: Students will present two of their four essays topics in class (near the end of the semester), long after they have been turned in. Which two are presented will be decided in part by class vote (based on which 2 of the 4 are the most interesting and/or the most useful to discuss or clarify further).

Quizzes/exams: These will be based on lectures and on readings (which will include all of the student essays -- not just those presented). Quizzes will not necessarily be announced in advance.

Piazza: Each student must sign up for the Piazza facility for this course; go here. You will be responsible for the information that I present there (in the form of messages).