Big Idea Talks by the Philosophy Department
Drs Whall and Morrow Win DSS AwardsDr. Mary Whall was selected to receive the Disability Support Services Outstanding Faculty Award for the Spring 2012 semester, and Professor David Morrow received the Fall 2011 award. The award is given on the basis of nominations by students registered with DSS of professors who promote an inclusive classroom, value diverse learning styles and abilities, challenge and support students with disabilities, and believe in working with all students.
Artificial Conversations Spark Insights into the Evolution of Ideas
By Matt WindsorIn a small office in UAB’s Humanities Building, philosopher Marshall Abrams, Ph.D., is hosting a heated debate about the origins of life. The nine participants share their opinions rapid-fire, completing several hundred conversations every minute. Nevertheless, not a word is spoken; all the action is happening on Abrams’s computer screen. Welcome to philosophy’s digital era.
Abrams is building a computer-based simulation of cultural change, the flow of ideas among individuals that exerts a powerful shaping force on a society’s guiding values. “Meteorologists want to understand the local changes that affect large-scale weather patterns,” Abrams says. “Social scientists want to do the same thing with cultural change. But just like the weather, it is very subtle and complicated. I’m trying to see what a digital model can add.”