Major advances in both hardware and software have accelerated the development of autonomous systems that have the potential to bring significant benefits to society. Google, Tesla, and a host of other companies are building autonomous vehicles that can improve safety and provide flexible mobility options for those who cannot drive themselves. On the aviation side, the past few years have seen the proliferation of unmanned aircraft that have the potential to deliver medicine and monitor agricultural crops autonomously. In the financial domain, a significant portion of stock trades are performed using automated trading algorithms at a frequency not possible by human traders. How do we build these systems that drive our cars, fly our planes, and invest our money? How do we develop trust in these systems? What is the societal impact on increased levels of autonomy? This Bing Overseas Studies Seminar exposes students to the fundamental concepts of autonomy and immerses the students in a collection of cutting-edge research laboratories at the University of Edinburgh, a major leader in computer science, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Edinburgh was also ground-zero of the industrial revolution with the invention of the steam engine by James Watt. The greater levels of automation enabled by this technology influenced nearly every aspect of daily life and had important consequences such as the replacement of human laborers with machines. As we embark in an era where human decision making is being replaced by the (potentially superior) judgment of computer algorithms, it is important to understand the broader impacts of this technology.
Instruction will come from lectures, guest lectures, student presentations, and individual research. Prior to Spring Quarter 2016, students will be matched to one of the research institutes within the School of Informatics, including: the Institute for Adaptive and Neural Computation; the Institute for Computing Systems Architecture; the Institute for Language, Cognition, and Computation; the Institute of Perception, Action, and Behaviour; the Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science; and the Center for Intelligent Systems and their Applications. During Spring Quarter at Stanford, the students will take a 1 unit course with Prof. Kochenderfer to prepare them for the research they will be undertaking at the University of Edinburgh.
The students will produce research papers and present their work to the group as well as to their respective laboratories. Student evaluation will be based on their paper and presentation as well as two written midterms.