Media Technology MSc

Research Seminar: Artificial Intelligence

by Maarten Lamers
Media Technology MSc program, Leiden University

This seminar-style course studies the topic of artificial intelligence. Presentations are mainly held by the students themselves. Goal of the course is to learn studying, processing and presenting scientific material, and to learn about artificial intelligence. The seminar consists of lectures, homework assignments, student presentations, a final project, and writing a paper. It covers various sexy topics from the field of artificial intelligence, to the level that should enable students to discuss AI comfortably with other scientists. The topics include the question of whether machines can think, evolutionary computation, neural networks, computing with DNA, computers and emotions, artificial creativity and more.

The selected topics were chosen to be practically applicable for future Media Technology projects, or to make students think about future directions. The course is open to students from other programmes and institutes also (request admission from It is not a complete overview of AI topics, and some topics are not strictly AI but related.

Lecturer: Maarten Lamers
Teaching Assistant: Annika Geurtsen
Contact her for questions outside class.
Location: room 413, Snellius building
Schedule: see the Media Technology calendar
Level, Credits: level 500 (scientifically oriented master course), 5 ECTS
Language: English

- attendance in all classes (required)
- a good grasp of verbal and written English (required)
- active participation in class (required)
- computer programming experience (recommended)

Grading: t.b.a.
Communication: Media Technology Forum and course vault.
Literature: no book, only web-available materials.


Before each class, students must read material about the discussed topic and answer some basic test questions at the start of class. The answers are graded and the average value of all homework results makes up a student's total homework grade. If a student does not attend the lecture, or is late for the homework test, a 0 is given (no exceptions).

A folder containing photocopies of all homework reading material is available in the Media Technology coordinator's office in the Snellius building. Students can borrow this folder to make photocopies of the papers only if they return the folder immediately and don't mess up the pages.


There are two types of student presentations:

  1. Duo-presentations, in which two students present the homework reading material and other material that they found themselves. Both students should speak for approximately equal parts of the total presentation. Each presentation should have two parts of 20 minutes each: the first part discusses the homework reading material, the second discusses applications (or examples) of the technique and why the technique is suited for such applications. For the second part, students should find their own material.
  2. Single-presentations, in which single students present a published scientific article in 20 minutes. They must start with clearly mentioning the title, authors, year of publication, and mention where it was published.

Presentation rules:

  • Take your presentation very seriously and practice it! With the presentations you teach the rest of the class, which is a serious matter. Therefore I expect that you prepare very well and do your best.
  • Presentations are graded on the choice of material, the displayed understanding of the material, and the structure of the presentation. Personal verbal skills are not graded, unless they make the presentation un-understandable. Duo-presentations are graded per-duo, meaning that a single grade is shared by both students. If there is a substantial difference in the amount/quality of the work by both students, then they may be graded separately (Maarten decides). However, since both students are responsible for the total presentation, their separate grades will somehow reflect the average.
  • Following each presentation there is room for questions and class discussion.
  • Make sure you present clearly, so that I can judge your understanding of the material.
  • If you want to use the video projector (beamer), make sure that the laptop and software run perfectly prior to your presentation! If you use a Mac computer, don't forget to bring a Mac-to-VGA-cable-thingy. Internet is available through eduroam only.
  • Topics and articles for presentations are assigned during lecture 1.
  • During presentations it is not allowed to have your laptop open, spend time on your phone, Facebook, Twitter, etcetera.


Topic Homework
course introduction: Wed Jan 15
context and history of AI (Maarten Lamers) -
assigning of topics to students -
artificial minds: Wed Jan 22
mind-body problem [Rowlands 2003]
[Hoenderdos 1988]
consciousness [Koch 2011]
can machines think? (student,student) [Dennett 1990]
chinese room argument (student) [Searle 1990]
artificial social beings: Wed Jan 29
social robotics (student,student) [Dautenhahn 2007, secs 1,2,3]
affective computing (student,student) [Picard 1995]
[Gibbs 2003]
artificial evolution: Wed Feb 5
evolutionary computation (student,student) [Eiben 2003, secs 2.1-2.3, 2.5]
[Cawsey 1997, sec 7.5]
evolutionary music & art (student,student)
[McCormack 2005]
ai in computer games: Wed Feb 12
ai in games (student,student)
[Nareyek 2004]
artificial swarms (student) [Bonabeau 2008]
spare class Wed Feb 19
artificial life: Wed Feb 26
artificial life intro (student) [Brooks 2001]
[Dewdney: Cellular]
simulation workshop (student,student) -
no class Wed Mar 5
artificial neurons: Wed Mar 12
feedforward networks (student, student) [Hinton 1992, pp 105-108]
[Cawsey 1997, secs 7.1, 7.2, 7.6]
mini tutorial (student) -

non-linear dimensionality reduction
(Maarten Lamers) [DeMers 1993]

artificial creatures: Wed Mar 19
artificial creatures intro (student) [Braitenberg 1984, pp 1-19]
Heider & Simmel (student)
[Heider 1944]

japanese digital pets (student)
[Kusahara 2001]

unconventional computing: Wed Mar 26
analog computing [Dewdney: Analog]
DNA computing (student,student) [Adleman 1998]
artificial bodies: Wed Apr 2
artificial bodies (student,student) t.b.a.
Rodney Brooks (student) [Brooks 1991a]
logic reasoning: Wed Apr 9
logic programming (Joris Slob) -
semantic web (student) [Berners-Lee 2001]
semantic web class assignment (student) -
artificial creativity: Wed Apr 16
artificial creativity (student,student) [Boden 1998]
ai in cars (student) -
biological-digital hybrids: Wed Apr 23
biological comp & control (student,student) [Skinner 1960]
[Nakagaki 2000]
[ScienceDaily 2004]
[Nature 2008]

limits of intelligence (student)
[Fox 2011]



Note that many articles can be downloaded from the university's network only (not from home) due to copyright restrictions. Others may be placed inside the course vault for which a password is provided in the first class.

artificial minds

[Turing 1950] Alan M Turing (1950), Computing Machinery and Intelligence, Mind 49 Num 236, pp 433-460.
[Minsky 1982] Marvin Minsky (1982), Why People Think Computers Can't, AI Magazine, Fall 1982, pp 3-15.
[Hoenderdos 1988] Piet Hoenderdos (1988), Victim of the Brain, a briliant Dutch film about the ideas of Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett (wikipedia, imdb).
[Dennett 1990] Daniel C Dennett (1990), Can Machines Think?, from The Age of Intelligent Machines, Ray Kurzweil, MIT Press.
[Searle 1990] John R Searle (1990), Is the Brain's Mind a Computer Program?, Scientific American 262(1), pp 26-31.
[Churchland 1990] Paul Churchland and Patricia Churchland (1990), Could a Machine Think?, Scientific American 262(1), pp 32-37.
[Dennett 1997] Daniel C Dennett (1997), Consciousness in Human and Robot Minds, from Cognition, Computation, and Consciousness, by M Ito, Y Miyashita, and ET Rolls, Oxford University Press.
[Copeland 2000] B Jack Copeland (2000), The Turing Test, Minds and Machines 10, pp 519-539.
[Rowlands 2003] Mark Rowlands (2003), Terminator I and II, the mind-body problem, Chapter 3 (pp 57-85) of The Philosopher at the End of the Universe — Philosophy explained through science fiction films, Ebury Press (Note: this excellent book was retitled to Sci-Phi: Philosophy from Socrates to Schwarzenegger).
[Koch 2011] Christof Koch and Giulio Tononi (2011), A Test for Consciousness, Scientific American June 2011, pp 44-47.

artificial neurons

[Hinton 1992] Geoffrey E Hinton (1992), How Neural Networks Learn from Experience, Scientific American September 1992, pp 104-109.
[Van Camp 1992] Drew van Camp (1992), Neurons for Computers, Scientific American September 1992, pp 125-127.
[Dewdney: Neural Nets] A.K. Dewdney (1993), Neural Networks That Learn, Chapter 36 (pp 241-249) of The New Turing Omnibus, Holt Publishers, NY.
[DeMers 1993] David DeMers and Garrison Cottrell (1993), Non-Linear Dimensionality Reduction, Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 5, pp 580-587.
[Kröse 1996] Ben Kröse and Patrick van der Smagt (1996), An introduction to Neural Networks, unpublished book.
[Cawsey 1997] Alison Cawsey (1997), Neural Networks, Sections 7.1, 7.2 and 7.6 of The Essence of Artificial Intelligence, Prentice Hall.
[Callan 2003] Rob Callan (2003), Neural Networks I, Chapter 15 (pp 286-311) of Artificial Intelligence, Palgrave Macmillan.
[Russell 2003] Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig (2003), Neural Networks, Section 20.5 (pp 736-748) of Artificial Intelligence, a Modern Approach (second edition), Prentice Hall Series in AI.

logic reasoning

[Dewdney: Logic Prog] A.K. Dewdney (1993), Logic Programming, Chapter 64 (pp 420-426) of The New Turing Omnibus, Holt Publishers, NY.
[Lenat 1995] Douglas B Lenat (1995), Artificial Intelligence, Scientific American, September 1995, pp 80-82.
[Liebowitz 1995] Jay Liebowitz (1995), Expert systems: a short introduction, Engineering Fracture Mechanics Vol 50, Num 5/6, pp 601-607.

semantic web

[Berners-Lee 2001] Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler And Ora Lassila (2001), The Semantic Web, Scientific American, May 2001, pp 35-43.
[Feigenbaum 2007] Lee Feigenbaum, Ivan Herman, Tonya Hongsermeier, Eric Neumann, and Susie Stephens (2007), The Semantic Web in Action, Scientific American, December 2007, pp 90-97.

artificial evolution

[Cawsey 1997] Alison Cawsey (1997), Genetic Algorithms, Section 7.5 of The Essence of Artificial Intelligence, Prentice Hall.
[Eiben 2003] AE Eiben and JE Smith (2003), Introduction to Evolutionary Computing, Springer.
- Chapter 1, Introduction, pp 1-14
- Chapter 2, What is an Evolutionary Algorithm?, pp 15-35
- explanation of symbols used in Chapter 2,
- Guszti Eiben worked at LIACS before becoming a professor in Amsterdam.
[McCormack 2005] Jon McCormack (2005), Open Problems in Evolutionary Music and Art, Proceedings 3rd European Workshop on Evolutionary Music and Art (EvoMUSART), LNCS Vol 3449, pp 428-436.
[De Jong 2006] Kenneth A De Jong (2006), Introduction, Chapter 1 (pp 1-22) of Evolutionary Computing, a Unified Approach, MIT Press.

affective computing

[Picard 1995] Rosalind W Picard (1995), Affective Computing, MIT Media Laboratory Perceptual Computing Section, Technical Report No 321.
[Picard 1996] Rosalind W Picard (1996), Does HAL Cry Digital Tears? Emotion and Computers, Chapter 13 of HAL's Legacy: 2001's Computer as Dream and Reality, MIT Press.
[Picard 1997] Rosalind W Picard (1997), Affective Computing, MIT Press.
[Picard 2000] Rosalind W Picard (2000), Toward Computers That Recognize and Respond to User Emotion, IBM Systems Journal, Vol 39 Num 3-4, pp 705-719.
[Gibbs 2003] W Wayt Gibbs (2003), Why Machines Should Fear, Scientific American, December 2003, pp 37-37A.
[Picard 2004] Rosalind W Picard, et al. (2004), Affective Learning — a Manifesto, BT Technical Journal, Vol 22(4), pp 253-269.

biological-digital hybrids

[Skinner 1960] B.F. Skinner (1960), Pigeons in a Pelican, American Psychologist, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp 28-37.
[Nakagaki 2000] Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Hiroyasu Yamada, Ágota Tóth (2000), Maze-Solving by an Amoeboid Organism, Nature 407, p 470.
  Video showing Nakagaki's experiment (interesting part starts at 3m20s).
[ScienceDaily 2004] 'Brain' In A Dish Acts As Autopilot, Living Computer,, 22 October 2004.
[NewScientist 2006] Robot Moved by a Slime Mould's Fears,, 13 February 2006.
[Nature 2008] Cellular Memory Hints at the Origins of Intelligence (2008), Nature 451, pp 385.
[ScienceDaily 2008] Robot With A Biological Brain: New Research Provides Insights Into How The Brain Works,, 14 August 2008.
[Adamatzky 2010] Andrew Adamatzky and Jeff Jones (2010), Road Planning with Slime Mould: If Physarum built motorways it would route M6/M74 through Newcastle, in print.

artificial life

[Gardner 1970] Martin Gardner (1970), The fantastic combinations of John Conway's new solitaire game "life", Scientific American 223, October 1970, pp 120-123.
[Wikipedia:Conway] Wikipedia Entry for Conway's Game of Life.
[Dewdney: Cellular] A.K. Dewdney (1993), Cellular Automata, Chapter 44 (pp 295-300) of The New Turing Omnibus, Holt Publishers, NY.
[Steels 1994] Luc Steels (1994), The Artificial Life Roots of Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Life Journal, Vol 1 Num 1-2, pp 75-110.
[Sipper 1995] Moshe Sipper (1995), An Introduction to Artificial Life, Explorations in Artificial Life (special issue of AI Expert), pp 4-8.
[Bedau 2000] Mark A Bedau, John S McCaskill, Norman H Packard, Steen Rasmussen, Chris Adami, David G Green, Takashi Ikegami, Kunihiko Kaneko, and Thomas S Ray (2000), Open Problems in Artificial Life, Artificial Life, Vol 6 Num 4, pp 363-376.
[Brooks 2001] Rodney Brooks (2001), The Relationship Between Matter and Life, Nature 409, pp 409-411.
[Packard 2003] Norman H Packard and Mark A Bedau (2003), Artificial Life, Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, Vol 1, Macmillan Publ., pp 209-215.

social robotics

[Fong 2003] Terrence Fong, Illah Nourbakhsh, Kerstin Dautenhahn (2003), A Survey of Socially Interactive Robots, Robotics and Autonomous Systems 42, pp 143–166.
[Dautenhahn 2007] Kerstin Dautenhahn (2007), Socially Intelligent Robots: Dimensions of Human–Robot Interaction, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B vol. 362, pp 679–704.
[Levy 2008] Not Tonight, Dear, I Have to Reboot, Scientific American, March 2008, pp 94-97.

artificial creatures

[Heider 1944] film (original, remake) from Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel (1944), An Experimental Study of Apparent Behavior, American Journal of Psychology 57(2), pp 243-259.
[Braitenberg 1984] Valentino Braitenberg (1984), Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology, MIT Press, pp 1-19.


[Reynolds 1987] Craig W Reynolds (1987), Flocks, Herds, and Schools: A Distributed Behavioral Model, ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics 21(4), July 1987, pp 25-34.
[Brooks 1990a] Rodney Brooks (1990), Elephants Don't Play Chess, Robotics and Autonomous Systems 6, pp 3-15.
[Brooks 1991a] Rodney Brooks (1991), Intelligence Without Representation, Artificial Intelligence 47, pp 139-159.
[Dewdney: Analog] A.K. Dewdney (1993), Analog Computation, Chapter 33 (pp 223-230) of The New Turing Omnibus, Holt Publishers, NY.
[Maes 1994] Pattie Maes (1994), Agents That Reduce Work and Information Overload, Communications of the ACM 37(7), pp 30-40.
[Adleman 1998] Leonard M Adleman (1998), Computing with DNA, Scientific American August 1998, pp 54-61.
[Gershenfeld 1998] Neil Gershenfeld and Isaac L Chuang (1998), Quantum Computing with Molecules, Scientific American June 1998, pp 66-71.
[Boden 1998] Margaret A Boden (1998), Creativity and Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence Vol 103 Num 1, pp 347-356.
[Sutton 1998] Richard S Sutton and Andrew G Barto (1998), Introduction, Chapter 1 of Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction , MIT Press.
[West 2000] Jacob West (2000), The Quantum Computer: An Introduction, online resource.
[Kusahara 2001] Machiko Kusahara (2001), The Art of Creating Subjective Reality: An Analysis of Japanese Digital Pets, Leonardo Vol 34 Num 4, pp 299-302.
[Webb 2002] Barbara Webb (2002), Robots in Invertebrate Neuroscience, Nature 407, pp 359-363.
[Linden 2003] Greg Linden, Brent Smith, and Jeremy York (2003), Recommendations: Item-to-Item Collaborative Filtering, IEEE Internet Computing Vol 7(1), pp 76-80.
[Nareyek 2004] Alexander Nareyek (2004), AI in Computer Games, ACM Queue, February 2004, pp 58-65.
[Shapiro 2006] Ehud Shapiro and Yaakov Benenson (2006), Bringing DNA Computers to Life, Scientific American May 2006, pp 44-51.
[Bonabeau 2008] Eric Bonabeau and Guy Theraulaz (2008), Swarm Smarts, Scientific American Special Editions 18(1), Your Future With Robots, pp 42-49.
[King 2011] Ross D King (2011), Rise of the Robo Scientists, Scientific American January 2011, pp 72-77.
[Fox 2011] Douglas Fox (2011), The Limits of Intelligence, Scientific American July 2011, pp 36-43.



1 September 2013