6.803 | Spring 2019 | Undergraduate

The Human Intelligence Enterprise

Schedule of Activities

Ajemian detangles neural nets


None. However, as an aid to memory, we offer notes taken by Dylan during lecture. We hope that they add useful perspective to your own notes, and make no claim that our notes are especially authoritative.

Edit: Prof. Ajemian’s slides (PDF), however, are especially authoritative.


[Note: If you discuss the assignment with another student—which we encourage—indicate whom you have talked with in your submitted composition. Of course your submitted composition must be written entirely by you.]

On a total of one side of one sheet of paper, using 10 pt type or larger, with standard interline spacing and margins, respond to all the following:

Much to your surprise, you have just received a call from your old friend Alyssa P. Hacker, now a high-ranking member of the Schwartzman College of Computing. Alyssa would like your help designing a bold new curriculum in which Brain and Cognitive Science students would all get basic training in machine learning and artificial neural nets. “After all,” she explains. “Artifical neural nets reveal much about human learning and the hierarchical cortical structures in the brain.” Having just heard Robert Ajemian speak, you have some doubts. However, teaching a computationally-grounded approach seems exactly right, and 6.803 luminaries (such as Minsky, Winston, and Marr) have given you a wealth of ideas about the right way forward. You readily agree to help out.

You decide to respond to Alyssa by letter, articulating the ideas you think the cognitive science curriculum of the future should include.

  1. Write a letter in response, explaining Ajemian’s view on the limits of artificial nets, and—
  2. Argue, instead, for a few key ideas from 6.803 readings you think everyone studying mental processes should know.

Naturally, you should focus your argument on conveying fundamental ideas in detail rather than, for example, minutiae about which courses should be taught and how.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2019
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments