This undergraduate seminar investigates the important points of contact between artificial intelligence (AI), social robotics and communication, providing students with the following:
  • Critical overview of the significant technological developments in AI, robots, algorithms, and autonomous systems
  • Facility with the important questions, issues, and problems that shape contemporary debates and conversations about AI and robotics
  • Knowledge of the influential individuals and organizations that define the field and help shape our increasingly technologically dependent society.
In the process, students not only investigate recent innovations in AI, robotics and communication but develop proficiency with the literature, history, major theories, and important practices of work in this field. The objective of the course is to cultivate informed, critical citizens and decision makers, who are confident dealing with both current and future technological innovation.

Who Where When

Location: DuSable Hall 218
Time: W 6:00-8:40pm
Instructor: Dr. David J. Gunkel
Department: Communication
Office: Reavis 112
Office Hours: MW 1:45-3:15 & by appointment
Phone: 773.775.2792

Texts & Resources

  • Jerry Kaplan. Artificial Intelligence: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford University Press, 2016. ISBN: 9780190602390
  • Thierry Poibeau. Machine Translation. The MIT Press, 2016. ISBN: 9780262534215
  • David J. Gunkel. The Machine Question. The MIT Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780262017435

These three texts are required and must be procured by all students enrolled in the course. In addition to these traditional print materials, we will employ a number of online texts (documents, videos, and podcasts). These materials are indicated on the course calendar and are required reading/viewing/listening.


Students will learn and become proficient with the following:
  • Theory & Concepts - Students will know the terminology, fundamental texts, and basic concepts of AI and robotics. They will be able to talk the talk, to analyze the major issues and debates, and to trace complex relationships between work in AI, robotics and communication.
  • Technology & Skills Development - Students will learn and cultivate practical skills with computer technology. They will learn how to write algorithms, and they will develop and interact with their own chatterbot.
  • Critical Thinking & Information Literacy - Students will practice critical evaluations of texts, media, and technology. They will learn how to question information, assess its importance, and communicate their findings.