Institute for Personal Robots in Education Blog

Exploring the Philosophy of Computer Science: Why it Matters

Sun, 2007-09-30 10:10
Teyvonia T. Thomas (not verified)

The Philosophy of Computer Science is a very intriguing subject. In fact, I had never thought of such a field before attending Professor Rapaport’s Lecture. It was clear from the presentation, that in order to better understand this subject, one had to consider and analyze fundamental questions like ‘What is philosophy?’ or ‘What is computer science?’ and that these two questions generate even more questions and issues to explore. As an individual who ‘questions everything’ I found this part of the lecture very stimulating since I too was forced to ask myself these very questions. The fact that most of these questions were not answered during the lecture prompted me even more to do some research on some of the topics that were mentioned.

Professor Rapaport raised some interesting points that I hadn’t considered much before. One important matter was the ethical question of whether or not we should build intelligent robots. One practical point that was raised was that funding for such projects could become limited and could subsequently lead to the decision to destroy such robots. This seems to be a very controversial topic. It made me think, ‘What if we did build intelligent robots – robots that could be taught to learn, for instance, and what would happen if these robots became more intelligent than human beings?’

Another important issue was the gender dynamics in computer science. Being at an all women’s college, I had somehow ‘forgotten’ that computer science is a male dominated field and that most of the literature on CS have been written by our male counterparts. This has made me eager to investigate how the role of women in CS has evolved over time and how the involvement of females have and will shape the development of Computer Science.

After listening to Professor Rapaport’s lecture, I began to realize that this area, ‘the philosophy of computer science,’ could be very beneficial to students of Philosophy as well as those interested in Computer Science. I think it is important to explore on a deeper level the subject one studies; it puts into perspective why we study the subjects we do, how the outcomes of these studies affect society as well as how our investigations can be applied to improve the subject areas themselves. I look forward to the day when Bryn Mawr will offer its own “Philosophy of Computer Science.”


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