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CSAS 3085/PSYC 3698 - Robotics and the Mind

This course explores the relation between Catholic theological reflection and scientific evidence on the question of what it means to be human. Are humans and animals mechanistic biological machines? What does it mean to have a soul? Are body and soul separate or are they one? Can mind/soul emerge in autonomous non-biological machines? These questions will be addressed from several disciplines including biology, psychology, computer science, neuroscience, philosophy, and theology. The theoretical discussion will be enhanced by physically constructing a variety of robots that deploy algorithmic and heuristic solutions to problems and that interact with their environment and with others. Despite the complexity of animals and humans, some seemingly complex behaviors can emerge from simple mechanistic processes. Using robots to help distinguish between what can and cannot be readily explained by simple processes will help us better define who we are in this age of rapidly expanding scientific knowledge.

Prerequisites: MATH 1202 or MATH 1401 or MATH 1501

The course is cross-listed three ways: CSAS 3085 AA, PSYC 3698 AA, and CORE 3101 BB, but it is the same course.

Task Videos

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I, Robot

General Information

  • Syllabus: see Blackboard
  • Readings: see Blackboard
  • Part 1 of course: see Blackboard

Part 2: Robot Resources

  1. Intro, Setup, and Construction
  2. Programming with NXT and Eclipse
  3. Modeling & Memory
  4. Behavior-Based Programming
  5. Sensory Perception
  6. Autonomous Vehicles
  7. Robot Learning


  1. A. Castellano & P. Decumber
  2. A. Sakowski & K. Lotz
  3. L. Calabro & S. Dorlus
  4. J. Driscoll & J. Martinez
  5. J. Yacoub & P. Banom
  6. A. Murphy & F. Daniello
  7. J. Boruch & J. Hunter

Bert G. Wachsmut
Last modified: 08/17/10