Penn philosopher sheds new light on robots, artificial intelligence

What role does a philosopher play in building robots? If you’re Lisa Miracchi, an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy in the School of Arts & Sciences, more than you might think. When scholars began studying human intelligence, Miracchi says two schools of thought emerged: One group said human beings are simply computers, with mental states and actions explained in computational terms. The other camp believed that intelligence and the ability to think makes humans more than just computers. There are important similarities between human beings and computers, Miracchi says, but “the story is much more complicated.” Department of Philosophy Miracchi studies artificial intelligence—she’s called a theoretical roboticist—and to understand her work requires first grasping what she means by the phrases “mental state” and “computational state.” The mental states…

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