CISC849 S2022

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Course information

Description CISC 849 -- Ethical Issues in Robotics and AI

An examination of issues raised by recent and expected advances in robotic and artificially intelligent (AI) systems, from the perspective of both their designers/creators and members of society generally. We will briefly cover the history and current state of robotics and AI, review relevant philosophical foundations and professional guidelines for engineers, and examine a number of topic areas. These include workplace safety, robots as caregivers and companions, surveillance and data mining, driverless cars, drones and autonomous military systems, and super-intelligent game-players. The format will focus on discussion and analysis of case studies in each topic area, as well as broader economic and social impacts.

Instructor Christopher Rasmussen
Office: Smith 446
Office hours: ??
Web page
Shortened URL
Schedule Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 pm to 3:15 pm in ???
  • 20% Analytical paper, due Oct. 11
  • 20% Presentation, given between Oct. 25 and Nov. 1
  • 30% Final project, alone or team of two. Proposal due Nov. 13, presentations Dec. 4-6
  • 30% Class participation. This includes attendance and how much you talk, but also the quality of what you say

For the presentation, each student will choose a real or hypothetical case/topic involving robotics/AI ethics issues. In 15-20 minutes, you will orally deliver a summary of the topic, outline the ethical issues and stakeholders, and ask the class several questions designed to initiate discussion. Visual aids (i.e., slides) are not required, but may be used for clarity. Presentation subjects must not be too similar to topics already in the syllabus, so you must get instructor approval after choosing a presentation date.

The project will involve a written and presentation component. Similar to the presentation, you will pick a topic (with instructor permission) to summarize and analyze. In fact, if you choose you may use the same topic as your presentation. However, here slides will be required, and you will also be asked to propose a technical "solution" that mitigates one or more ethical concerns related to the topic. The design and justification of this "solution" will constitute the bulk of the deliverables for the project.

All homework artifacts (papers, slides) must be submitted via e-mail to the instructor by midnight of the deadline day (with a grace period of a few hours afterward).

Students can discuss problems with one another in general terms, but must work independently on all assignments except the final project. This also applies to online and printed resources: you may consult them as references (as long as you cite them), but the words you turn in must be yours alone. Any quoting must be clear and appropriately cited--plagiarism in any form will not be tolerated. The University's policies on academic dishonesty are set forth in the student code of conduct here.

For the overall course grade, a preliminary absolute mark will be assigned to each student based on the percentage of the total possible points they earn according to the standard formula: A = 90-100, B = 80-90, C = 70-80, etc., with +'s and -'s given for the upper and lower third of each range, respectively. Based on the distribution of preliminary grades for all students (i.e., "the curve"), the instructor may increase these grades monotonically to calculate final grades. This means that your final grade can't be lower than your preliminary grade, and your final grade won't be higher than that of anyone who had a higher preliminary grade.

I will try to keep you informed about your standing throughout the semester. If you have any questions about grading or expectations at any time, please feel free to ask me.

Book sources



Note: The blue squares in the "#" column below indicate Tuesdays.

# Date Topic Notes Readings Assignments/slides
1 Feb. 8 Introduction Graphics background, course information Marschner, 1-1.4
2 Feb. 10 2-D, 3-D Geometry Vector & matrix review, homogeneous coordinates, 2-D & 3-D transformations, quaternions Marschner, 2.4, 5.2-5.2.2, 6-6.3 (skip 6.1.6, 6.2.1-6.2.2), 16.2.2
3 Feb. 15 3-D Geometry More 3-D transformations, camera manipulation & the view volume Marschner, 6.5-7.2
4 Feb. 17

Add/drop deadline Feb. 26

3-D Geometry Perspective projection, geometry pipeline, transformations with GLM Marschner, 7.3, 7.5; OpenGL tutorials #1 (including installation instructions), #3

HW #1

5 Feb. 22
OpenGL/GLFW Program initialization, window creation, geometric primitives Marschner, 17-17.7, 17.9-17.11
6 Feb. 24 OpenGL/GLFW Basic animation, user interface callbacks OpenGL tutorial #6
7 Mar. 1 GPU programming Introduction to GLSL, vertex shaders vs. fragment shaders; GLSL texturing demo Marschner, 17.8; Orange book Chaps. 2-5 HW #1 due
8 Mar. 3 Shading Radiometry: irradiance, radiosity, radiance, BRDFs Marschner, 10-10.2.1, 20-20.2

HW #2

9 Mar. 8 Shading Diffuse, specular reflection, Gouraud/Phong shading details; OpenGL, GLSL shading methods Marschner, 10-10.2.2; OpenGL tutorial #8
10 Mar. 10 Textures Finish shading/lighting; texture-mapping basics, bump mapping Marschner, 11.2, 11.4 (homogeneous division material--not barycentric coords), 11.5
11 Mar. 15 Textures Texturing pipeline, bump maps, lightmaps, environment maps, shadow maps Marschner, 11.1.3-11.1.4, 11.3
12 Mar. 17 Midterm review HW #2 due
14 Mar. 25 Particle systems Flocking; introduction to Bullet physics library OpenGL tutorial on clicking, Bullet physics manual (you don't have to read all of it, it's just for reference); Marschner, 11.1.3-11.1.4, 11.3

HW #3

Mar. 29 NO CLASS
Spring break
Mar. 31 NO CLASS
Spring break
Instructor away
15 Apr. 7 Textures, clipping Bilinear vs. nearest-neighbor filtering, magnification/minification, mipmaps; line and triangle clipping Marschner, 11.4.4-11.4.5
16 Apr. 12 Hidden surface elimination Backface culling, Z-buffering, painter's algorithm Marschner, 8.1.3-8.1.6,, 8.2-8.2.3, 8.4 HW #3 due
17 Apr. 14 Finish hidden surface elimination; line drawing BSP trees; DDA, midpoint line-drawing Marschner, 12.4, 8.1-8.1.1, 8.3 HW #4
18 Apr. 19 A little Blender, shape modeling Bezier curves and surfaces, Catmull-Rom splines, subdivision Marschner, 15-15.6.1 (ignore material on knots, Hermite form)
19 Apr. 21 Ray tracing Ray casting, intersection testing Marschner, 4
20 Apr. 26 Ray tracing Shadow rays (including soft shadows, ambient occlusion) Marschner, 4
21 Apr. 28
Withdraw deadline May 3
Ray tracing Reflections (including glossy), distributed/distribution ray tracing Marschner, 4 HW #5
22 May 3 Global illumination Finish refractions, super-sampling for anti-aliasing, spatial data structures Marschner, 4
23 May 5 Global illumination Bidirectional ray tracing, photon mapping Marschner, 4, 12.3, 13.1, 13.4; "Bidirectional Ray Tracing" paper, photon mapping introduction, online demo
24 May 10 Noise, bonus topic: animation basics Value/Perlin noise, rigging Marschner, 11.5.2-11.5.3, Orange book 15
25 May 12 Final review

HW #5 due

26 May 17 SIGGRAPH videos
May 17-18 HW #5 demos demo sign up link will be here