Lesson 4.2 Intelligent Agents

In this lesson, students experiment with materials designed to illuminate the rise of intelligent and complex behavior from simple rules and seemingly unintelligent agents. Students begin by studying a model of Langton's ant, a simple Turing machine with some surprising emergent behavior. The students manipulate artificial neurons, called perceptrons, and neural networks. Students design and conduct their own experiments on a model of their own choosing using Monte Carlo methods. Students explore the generation and observation of fractals and study a diffusion-limited aggregation model for producing fractal behavior.

Essential Questions
  • How has computation affected our ability to predict the future?
  • How has computation affected our ability to experience virtual phenomena?
  • How has simulation changed the design process in engineering and other creative fields?