Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session
The term 6.xxx is used in the syllabus to jointly refer to the undergraduate (6.803) and graduate (6.833) versions of the course. A calendar of topics is presented below.
6.xxx is designed to help you learn about progress toward the scientific goal of understanding human intelligence from a computational point of view. The foundations for 6.xxx were developed by a group that styles itself as The Human Intelligence Enterprise, from which this subject draws its name.
6.xxx complements 6.034, because 6.xxx focuses on long-standing scientific questions, whereas 6.034 focuses on existing tools for building applications with reasoning and learning capability.
Why You Should Take 6.xxx
- You should take 6.xxx if you want to learn about the enterprise of explaining intelligence from a computational point of view. When you have finished the subject, you will understand the powerful ideas behind an optimistic view of what will be discovered in the next decade.
- You should take 6.xxx if you want to develop a foundation for making personal contributions toward reaching the goal of understanding intelligence. When you have finished the subject, you will know about intriguing ideas begging for extension.
- You should take 6.xxx if you want to learn how to dig the salient ideas out of a research paper without distraction by minutiae. When you have finished the subject, you will have learned to identify big ideas and ignore detritus.
- You should take 6.xxx if you want to learn to present complex ideas effectively, as if you were presenting a thesis, delivering a job talk, chatting with a high-ranking official at breakfast, or making a presentation to a potential customer or venture capitalist. When you have finished the subject, you will have learned about heuristics that will improve your ability to do all these.
Why 6.xxx can be Viewed as a Humanities Subject
- 6.xxx is about computational theories of human thinking. Hence, 6.xxx can be viewed as a special kind of psychology subject.
- 6.xxx is about ferreting big ideas out of original sources through thoughtful reading, writing, and discussion. Hence, 6.xxx can be viewed as a special kind of literature subject.
- 6.xxx is about packaging ideas into a variety of formats, including abstracts, conclusions, slide shows, press releases, proposals, reports, letters, and conversation. Hence, 6.xxx can be viewed as a subject in communication.
- 6.xxx is about how to empower ideas through a clear statement of vision, an enumeration of concrete steps toward the vision, an articulation of new results with clarifying details, and a statement of contributions. Hence, 6.xxx can be viewed as a subject in persuasion and leadership.
Why You Should Avoid 6.xxx
- You should avoid 6.xxx unless you can commit to on-time attendance and committed reading.
Because of the emphasis on reading and discussion, and the limitation on enrollment, regular attendance is obligatory, along with commitment to reading the papers. If you cannot picture yourself in class at 9:30 am, every Monday and Wednesday, you should not register, so as to make room for others who would otherwise be excluded because of the enrollment limitation. A corollary is that you probably should not register for 6.xxx if you are taking five subjects or course equivalents, such as UROP. You definitely should not register if you are involved in a startup or you are taking six or more subjects or subject equivalents.
- You should avoid 6.xxx if you are not interested in understanding human intelligence from a computational point of view.
Believing that both mind-stretching and near-miss learning are educationally useful, some of the papers I have selected are boring, stupid, or nearly unintelligible. One goal of the subject is to develop the skill of gleaning useful ideas from such papers, but if you have little or no interest in understanding human intelligence, you should not subject yourself to the necessary reading. For more detail on what you will need to read, have a look at the readings section.
- You should avoid 6.xxx if you already know everything you need to know about communication.
About one-third of the subject is devoted to discussing how to package ideas orally and in writing. You need to be enthusiastic about practicing the skills taught with a positive attitude. For more detail on what will be covered in the communication dimension, have a look at the assignments section.
- You should avoid 6.xxx if you are enrolled in another limited-enrollment AI subject or an AI subject whose enrollment should be limited.
Alas, advanced AI subjects are scarce, and fairness dictates that they should be offered as broadly as possible. This fairness goal must be balanced, however, against the need to keep some of them small. If you are just generally interested in AI, you should take one of the graduate lecture-based subjects.
6.803 is the undergraduate version of 6.xxx, and 6.833 is the graduate version. The two differ in that 6.833 may require you to attend some extra classes and will require you to complete a substantial term project. Both meet together ordinarily.
The graduate, H-level subject forms a bridge between 6.034 and design/project/thesis work in Artificial Intelligence.
The content of 6.xxx is largely based on papers identified in an informal survey of representative AI leaders, who were asked what has most influenced the way they think about human intelligence. The papers mentioned tend to fall into the following categories, ranked by frequency:
- Visionary Thinking by the Giants
- Computational Models of Perception and Cognition
- Powerful Computational Ideas
- Neuroscience and Human Behavior
- You read parts or all of one or two papers for each class.
- You discuss the content of those papers in class, occasionally with the authors.
The following mechanisms are used to ensure that you read the papers and absorb the material:
- Homework, consisting of either short answers to questions about the papers or the preparation of abstracts, slide shows, and other forms of communication.
- Verbal questions, often asked of random students during class.
Limit on Enrollment
Because of the emphasis on reading, discussion, and presentation, enrollment is limited.
Credit and Projects
Doing a substantial project is required for graduate H credit. More details are available in the projects section.
"Discussion" refers to the introductory first half hour of class that is spent discussing communication heuristics.
|SES #||TOPICS||COMMUNICATION REQUIREMENTS|
|1||Winston Reflects on the First 50 years|
|2||Turing Suggests Test for Success|| |
Broken Glass Diagrams
|3||Minsky Lays Out Steps Toward Creating AI|| |
Broken Glass Diagrams (cont.)
Purpose of Abstract and Conclusion
|4||Brooks Denies Value of Representations Davis and Friends Affirm Value of Representations|| |
Vision, Steps, News
|5||Marr Speaks to What Constitutes Good Work|| |
How to Get Famous: Winston's Star
|6||Ullman Explains Visual Routines|| |
How to Write a Press Release
|7||Ullman Introduces Goldilocks Theory|| |
Discovery Through Knowledge Engineering
|8||Rao Offers Explanation for Acquisition of Visual Routines|| |
10 to Inform, 10 to Watch
|9||Borchardt Focuses on Transitions|| |
How to Write Recommendation Letters
|10||Jackendoff Grounds Out in Trajectories|| |
|11||Vaina and Grearenblatt Condemn Trees|| |
Slide Shows (cont.)
How to Interview and be Interviewed
|12||Minsky Predicts Important Role for Perception|| |
Spider Web Evaluations
|13||Spelke Demonstrates Role of Language in Reorientation|| |
Dialog Emulation (Galileo, Plato, Mao, Watson, McPherson)
|14||Geiger Argues that Dyslexics See too Much|| |
Letter to Author(s)
How to Change a Decision
|15||Kirby Speculates on the Emergence of Syntax Sutherland Calls for Courage|| |
How to Write a Journal Review
How to Construct a Quad Chart
|17||Gentner Recalls the Importance of Analogy|| |
How to Run a Study: Terms of Reference
|18||Larson Grounds Symbols in Perception|| |
How to Run a Conference
|19||Yuret Lays a Foundation for Language Semantics|| |
How to Write a Letter Proposal
|20||Yip and Sussman Use Sparse Spaces to Model Learning of Phonological Rules|| |
Textbook Chapter Opening
How to Write a Book
|21||Finlayson Announces the Goldilocks Principle|| |
How to Stay in Touch-lifetime Lists
|22||Winston Attacks Laird|| |
How to Run a Panel Discussion
|23||Sur Rewires Brains|| |
Getting the Message to Garcia
|24||Coen Perceives Work Together-win Together Theme|| |
How to Speak
Recommendation, Presentation, Suggestions
How to Applaud, Kabuki Style
|26||Presentations (cont.)|| |
Recommendation, Presentation, Suggestions (cont.)
A Boyfriend in a Box