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P4C Assembly Guide: Humans vs Computers

This week, a guide for a philosophical assembly, developed from recent visits to Finton House School, London and St. Francis’ School, Wiltshire.
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Philosophy Assembly Guide: Humans vs. Computers 
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Below is a plan that has a background for the teacher’s benefit, and a suggested script in italics, followed by some tips for facilitation.
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BACKGROUND
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Artificial Intelligence is getting better at many things that previously only humans could do: playing chess, diagnosing illnesses, organising school timetables. So far, the advantage is mostly in specific tasks, but general artificial intelligence, including the ability to “pass” as a human in conversation, seems to be getting closer. But are there any things that only humans will ever be able to do? It’s a great way into thinking about what are the essential qualities of being human. https://eureka.eu.com/innovation/deep-mind-chess/ 
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WARM-UP
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The theme of today’s assembly is robots and humans. If you could have a robot for Christmas that could do just one thing really well, what would that be? 
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INTRODUCTION
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Who plays chess? In 1985, IBM’s Deep Blue computer beat the World Chess Champion, Gary Kasparov, who said it was “like playing chess against the mind of God”. 
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It took years to program Deep Blue with thousands of examples of chess games and tactics. But computers have got much better since 1985 and people have got better at programming them to get better at things by themselves. 
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Last year, Google’s AlphaZero computer was given just the rules of chess. Then it played itself millions of times, learning what moves and strategies worked well and which ones to avoid. It was able to reach a super-human level of chess skill – in just four hours. 
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But perhaps there are things that will be much harder for computers to master than chess. Is there anything humans will always be better at than computers?
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Tricks of The Trade
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Try to ‘swim with the current’ – if someone’s point is particularly original or thoughtful, or just gets a ripple of reaction, repeat it back and let others discuss it in pairs. A philosophical assembly is driven by the pupils, not our script. At St. Francis on Tuesday, this happened in the warm up: One child suggested they’d get their robot to go to work each day, earning money, so they could stay at home. We then discussed if this was fair, and how the earnings should be split between robot and owner!
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The point of philosophy assemblies is to have time for children to talk and listen to one another’s ideas, so you need a quick way to go from noise to quiet. The Mexican Shush is our preferred method: As the name suggests, it’s like a Mexican wave, but with a “Shh!”. You “Shh!” a couple of people standing next you, they pass it on and so on throughout the room.

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