$100,000 grant awarded to John Morrison and Christos Papadimitriou for new course in philosophy, comp sci, & neuroscience

We are happy to announce that John Morrison (Associate Professor, Barnard Philosophy) and Christos Papadimitriou (Donovan Family Professor, Columbia Computer Science) were awarded a $100,000 grant from the Columbia Data Science Institute  to create and teach a course at the intersection of philosophy, computer science, and neuroscience.   The grant comes from  Columbia's Collaboratory Fellows Fund and will allow John and Christos to create a course exploring the following issues: 

"Artificial neural networks can do amazing things. They can play chess, recognize faces, predict human behavior, learn language, create art. Natural neural networks -- that is to say, brains -- can do many of the same things, often a little more clumsily. But, unlike artificial networks, they can switch seamlessly between two tasks, learn to perform them
without supervision, and do not need to be told to -- actually, they can choose to refuse.

Brains provided the initial inspiration for the artificial networks, which is why we call them 'artificial neural networks.' But how deep are the similarities between the two? Do they share more than a few abilities, a similar structure, and a common nomenclature?"


The course will explore these issues from both philosophical and computational perspectives.  A companion lab course will teach students how to program their own artificial neural networks.


Congratulations to John and Christos for this exciting grant.