Neural Networks: Computational and Philosophical Perspectives

A collaboration between Barnard’s department of Philosophy and SEAS Computer Science

We increasingly rely on artificial neural networks to make important decisions for us. But our understanding of them is fundamentally lacking in that we often don’t know the reasons for their decisions. We also don’t yet understand whether the similarities to natural neural networks, i.e., brains, are deep or superficial. This course explores these issues from both philosophical and computational perspectives. It thereby provides our students with the background necessary to engage with one of the most pressing issues in both machine learning and systems neuroscience. There is also a companion lab course to teach students how to program their own artificial neural networks.