Computer Science 24, Section 2

The Coevolution of Humans and Machines (1 unit, P/NP)

Professor Edward Lee
Friday 11:00-12:00, 531 Cory Hall, Class number: 28655

Are humans defining technology, or is technology defining humans? Richard Dawkins famously said that a chicken is an egg’s way of making another egg. Is a human a computer’s way of making another computer? Certainly, digital technology has changed the way we interact with one another, the way we work, and even the way we think. The machines serve as intellectual prostheses, helping us with arithmetic, spelling, and remembering (while also subtly manipulating our thoughts, directing us to click on ads or vote a certain way). Should the software systems that have taken over so much of our lives be viewed as living beings, defined by bits rather than DNA? In this seminar, students will discuss whether these “living digital beings” will threaten humans with annihilation, fuse with them to create cyborgs, or coevolve with them. There will be assigned reading and the only requirement is to actively participate in discussing the reading.

Instructor Bio

Edward A. Lee has been working on embedded software systems for 40 years. After detours through Yale, MIT, and Bell Labs, landed at Berkeley, where he is now Professor of the Graduate School in EECS. His research is focused on cyber-physical systems. He is author of leading textbooks on embedded systems and digital communications, and has recently been writing books on philosophical and social implications of technology.

Faculty web site:


Instructor approval is required for this seminar. Students should wait list the class, and the instructor will provide permission codes as appropriate.