Contra Corey Pein, Computer Science Is A Science

In this day and age, sophisticated critique of technology and science is much needed. What we don’t need is critiques like this long piece in the Baffler by Corey Pein which, I think, is trying to mount a critique of the lack of ethics education in computer science curricula but seems most concerned with assertingContinue reading “Contra Corey Pein, Computer Science Is A Science”

No, Aristotle Did Not ‘Create’ The Computer

For the past few days, an essay titled “How Aristotle Created The Computer” (The Atlantic, March 20, 2017, by Chris Dixon) has been making the rounds. It begins with the following claim: The history of computers is often told as a history of objects, from the abacus to the Babbage engine up through the code-breakingContinue reading “No, Aristotle Did Not ‘Create’ The Computer”

Artificial Intelligence And Go: (Alpha)Go Ahead, Move The Goalposts

In the summer of 1999, I attended my first ever professional academic philosophy conference–in Vienna. At the conference, one titled ‘New Trends in Cognitive Science’, I gave a talk titled (rather pompously) ‘No Cognition without Representation: The Dynamical Theory of Cognition and The Emulation Theory of Mental Representation.’ I did the things you do atContinue reading “Artificial Intelligence And Go: (Alpha)Go Ahead, Move The Goalposts”

John Cheever On Computer Programming

In The Wapshot Chronicle (Harper and Row, New York, 1957), John Cheever writes: There was a demand that year for Tapers and he pointed this out to Coverly as his best bet. The government would pay half of Coverly’s tuition at the MacIlhenney Institute. It was a four-month course and if he passed his exams he wouldContinue reading “John Cheever On Computer Programming”

An Old Flame (No, Not That Kind)

Writing about the adversarial disputation styles present in academic philosophy reminded me of the time I lost my temper at someone who worked in the same department as me. (I don’t use the term ‘colleague’ advisedly. This dude was anything but.) Then, I was in the computer science department at Brooklyn College, and had forContinue reading “An Old Flame (No, Not That Kind)”

Changing Philosophical Career Paths

I began my academic philosophy career as a ‘logician.’ I wrote a dissertation on belief revision, and was advised by a brilliant logician, Rohit Parikh, someone equally comfortable in the departments of computer science, philosophy and mathematics. Belief revision (or ‘theory change’ if you prefer) is a topic of interest to mathematicians, logicians, and computerContinue reading “Changing Philosophical Career Paths”

Please, Can We Make Programming Cool?

Is any science as desperate as computer science to be really, really liked? I ask because not for  the first time, and certainly not the last, I am confronted with yet another report of an effort to make computer science ‘cool’, trying in fact, to make its central component–programming–cool. The presence of technology in theContinue reading “Please, Can We Make Programming Cool?”

The Quantity Problem with Peer Review in the Sciences

Jack Hitt’s recent article in the New York Times touting the virtues of crowdsourcing peer review, of public comments on to-be-published or just-published scientific research, prompts me to offer a few thoughts on the problems in traditional peer review in a discipline—computer science—that I have had some exposure to in the past. In this post,Continue reading “The Quantity Problem with Peer Review in the Sciences”