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Stanford Course

An academic course at Stanford University titled "The Boundaries of Humanity: Humans, Animals, and Machines in the Age of Biotechnology" (Anthro128A), co-taught by Professor William Hurlbut and Professor William Durham, took place during spring quarter, 2016. The course invited field leaders to share their area of expertise with the class and to discuss the implications of our dilemmas at the 'boundaries of humanity' and the wisest path forward into the human future. 

Course Topic


Class 1: Historical perspectives on human distinction and human flourishing

Jessica Riskin, Professor of History, and James Sheehan, Professor Emeritus of History, Stanford University

Class 2: Course overview and Transcendent Man screening


Class 3: Evolution and the emergence of the human

William H. Durham, Professor in Anthropology & Human Biology, Stanford University

Class 4: Homo sapiens, the symbolic species

Terrence Deacon, Professor in Biological Anthropology, UC Berkeley

Class 5: Human evolutionary ecology

Kim Hill, Professor of Anthropology, Arizona State University

Class 6: Human Universals and Variations

William H. Durham, Professor in Anthropology & Human Biology, Stanford University

Class 7: Embodied cognition: the conceptual groundings of symbolic and aesthetic capacities

William Hurlbut, Consulting Professor in Neurobiology, Stanford University

Class 8: Distinguishing aspects of human social psychology

Jeanne Tsai, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Stanford University

Class 9: Common and distinctive patterns in genetics and human developmental neurobiology

David Kingsley, Professor of Developmental Biology, Stanford University

Class 10: The inevitability of human intelligence

Simon Conway Morris, Professor of Palaeobiology, University of Cambridge

Class 11: Clones, Chimeras, and Human Hybrids

Stuart Newman, Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy, New York Medical College

Class 12: Humans and machines: current and future cyborg possibilities

Paul Nuyujukian, Postdoctoral scholar, Neurosurgery, Stanford University

Class 13: Distinguishing characteristics of human cognition

Andrew Meltzoff, Professor in Psychology, University of Washington

Class 14: Distinguishing characteristics of human emotions

David Lyons, Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University

Class 15: Unique Characteristics of Human Social Psychology

Jamil Zaki, Assistant Professor, Psychology, Stanford University

Class 16: Neuroaesthetics: the elevation of uniquely human abilities

Blakey Vermeule, Professor of English, Stanford University

Class 17: Humans, Computers, and Robots

Trevor Blackwell, Researcher at Y Combinator

Class 18: Transcendent Man: the Vision of Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil, Chief Engineer and Renowned Futurist, Google

Class 19: Course Reflection:  What are the boundaries we have found?  How will they shape the human future?