Instructor Insights

Maintaining Intellectual Coherence across a Wide Range of Topics Related to Intelligence

In this section, Prof. Ellen Hildreth shares how she and her colleagues maintain intellectual coherence in a course that explores a wide range of topics related to intelligence.

"Through class discussions, students themselves probed the connections between different aspects of intelligent behavior explored in the course."
— Ellen Hildreth

With a course that integrates lectures from so many speakers on such a wide range of topics, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture that ties the content together. The close and sustained interactions between the instructors and guest speakers through their participation in the Brains, Minds, and Machines summer course and research of the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines, strengthens the intellectual coherence of the course content. Through class discussions, students themselves probed the connections between different aspects of intelligent behavior explored in the course. Topics were also united by common themes weaved into lectures and recitations, captured in broad questions such as the following:

  • How does the mind process sensory information to produce intelligent behavior, and how can we design intelligent computer algorithms that behave similarly?
  • What is the structure and form of human knowledge – how is it stored, represented and organized?
  • How do human minds arise through processes of evolution, development and learning?
  • How are the domains of language, perception, social cognition, planning, and motor control combined and integrated in an intelligent agent able to sense, act, communicate, and learn?
  • Are there common principles of learning, prediction, decision or planning that span across these domains?

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