How Human Can We Make It? The Philosophical and Historical Foundations of AI and the Future of Sentient Machines with John Hessler

fall 23

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Course Title: How Human Can We Make It? The Philosophical and Historical Foundations of AI and the Future of Sentient Machines

Instructor: John Hessler

Brought to you by Odyssey  

August 31, 2023 - October 05, 2023 (6 Sessions)  

Thursday, 6:30 PM ET 

In Person at the Homewood Campus


COURSE DESCRIPTION: The launch of the large language model and interactive application ChatGPT created news headlines around the globe. It's seemingly human-like conversational style and ability to create text, write code, and answer complex questions surprised both the general public and computer scientists. Participants in this course will learn about the history and philosophy artificial intelligence, starting with the birth of the earliest artificial neural networks, all the way to the newest large language models like BERT and ChatGPT. We will discuss why these new AI models are so good at human like conversation and explore the foundations of techniques like Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback and the Attention Networks that make them so "humanlike". Students will also discuss the philosophy and ethics behind these models and learn more about how to use complex tools on their own. No programming or coding knowledge necessary.


Johns Hopkins Tuition Remission Policies  

Johns Hopkins alumni, staff, faculty and their spouse or domestic partners are eligible for tuition remission for Odyssey lifelong learning courses. Select the correct ticket pricing during registration. If we cannot confirm your eligibility, you will be requested to pay the full registration price for the course.  Eligibility details can be found here

Withdrawals & Refunds: 

If a course is canceled or closed, the registrant is notified immediately, and a full refund is processed automatically unless another course is requested. Registrants who wish to withdraw from an active course must complete the online Odyssey Refund Request Form. Attach any documentation to support your request (e.g., medical documentation, family crisis documentation, etc.). 

100% refund- Prior to the start of the course. 

50% refund- During the first week of the course. 

No refunds will be given after the first week of each course unless in exceptional cases. 

Please note, refunds apply only to the tuition portion of an Odyssey participant’s charges and are not applicable to any fees or gifts made to the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association. Registrants will be notified by email if a refund is approved within (5) business days. 

ABOUT John Hessler
Director of the Biomap-Lab and Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University.

John Hessler is an applied mathematician, computer scientist, and lecturer in the Odyssey Program at Johns Hopkins University. 

He is the founder and director of the biomap-lab, where they are developing new statistical and computational tools for mapping and visualizing the dynamics of far from equilibrium spatial processes, like the spread of pandemics, non-stationary urban processes, and mass population movement. Their current computational research centers on retrospectively mapping the spatial phylodynamics and complex transmission pathways of the 2014-2016 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, and on studying the geographic distribution of the earliest cases of SARS-CoV-2.

 Event Date
Thursday, August 31, 2023
6:30pm EDT

Thursday, October 5, 2023
8:00pm EDT

1-800-JHU-JHU1 (548-5481)

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Thank you for your interest in Odyssey. This course is now closed. For questions, please contact