Course Title

Artificial Social Intelligence


Course Description

The main objective of the proposed course is to provide a comprehensive understanding of Artificial Social Intelligence (ASI). In the broadest sense, ASI encompasses the observation, analysis and synthesis of social phenomena. To this end, ASI merges subfields such as social perception, theory of mind (ToM), and social interaction, focusing on perception, cognitive components, behavior, and psychometric methods for evaluating social abilities.


Aligned with SCIoI’s core principles, the course will expand the interdisciplinary approach of Mind & Brain, traditionally encompassing psychology, neuroscience, and humanities, by integrating synthetic sciences such as machine learning, computer vision, and robotics.


Targeting students at the master level at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, the course primarily comprises a lecture series featuring internationally acclaimed scientists from diverse fields, along with SCIoI-PIs. The curriculum is structured into three thematic blocks, each highlighting a crucial aspect of (artificial) social intelligence:

  1. Social Perception: This foundational block focuses on recognizing social features like animacy, agency, or nonverbal display. It encompasses low-level, automatic, and non-conscious visual perception essential for ToM and social interaction.
  1. Theory of Mind (ToM): ToM involves higher-level cognitive reasoning, including understanding beliefs, intents, and desires of others. It revolves around attributing mental states to oneself and others and recognizing differing perspectives and mental constructs.
  1. Social Interaction: This block highlights more complex, multi-agent interactive activities, like verbal and nonverbal communication and cooperation, extending beyond social perception and ToM by adding an interactional perspective.

The thematic blocks have been selected due to their solid foundation in cognitive science and the availability of computational modelling tools. The course will investigate theoretical hypotheses and experimental evidence from cognitive science, presenting AI’s computational parallels. It will also address key challenges in ASI development, including ethical and societal considerations.


Course Organizer

Jonas Frenkel


Course Format

Lectures will be hybrid, offered both in-person and digitally, and will be recorded for broader access. Similar to the LIFE graduate school of the Max Planck Institute, speakers will be asked for two to three literature recommendations that accompany their lectures. To foster Communication and Cooperation as well as Research Methodology and Critical Analysis, for each lecture, one of the students from the group of the Mind&Brain master students who attend the module will be asked to coordinate a joint lecture session and a collection of questions in regard to the recommended papers to initiate dialogues with the lecturer.


Target Group

The course is designed for Master’s students of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, particularly those specializing in the “Brain” track. However, it is open to students from other academic backgrounds including those in the “Mind” track, to foster diverse perspectives. This lecture series integrates seamlessly with the Berlin School of Mind & Brains’ scope and existing curriculum. The course aligns with the M&B research objectives, specifically targeting research topic 6, “Human Sociality and the Brain” and incorporating elements of topics 2 and 3, “Decision Making” and “Language”, respectively.

It builds upon and broadens the current educational content in the M&B Master’s program, particularly in Module 2, “Cognitive Neuroscience”, and Module 7, “Language and the Brain”. Additionally, it enhances the research methodologies introduced in Module 3, “Methodology”, by demonstrating the benefits of combining analytical and synthetic research techniques. The course also links to other modules in the Master’s program, notably Module 5, “Clinical Neuroscience”, with a focus on Autism Spectrum disorders, and Module 4, “Ethics and Neuroscience”.


Course Structure

The course will consist of a lecture series and an accompanying seminar. The course is divided into 14 sessions, comprising 12 lectures and 2 seminar meetings (at the beginning and at the end of the semester), amounting to 2 SWS in total. A balance of SCIoI PIs and distinguished international scientists will contribute to the lecture series.

In order to pass, a portfolio exam must be taken.

The main components are:

  • Critical reflection on one of the topics covered: Students must summarize and critically reflect on one of the topics covered in a maximum of 3 pages.
  • Developing an own potential research project on one of the topics covered. At the end of the semester, students must independently develop and plan a potential research project and present it in the form of a short exposé.
  • In order to ensure regular preparation for the individual presentations, students must also read 1-2 papers proposed by the speakers before each presentation. They then have to formulate 1-2 questions, which are sent to the speaker before the presentation. This procedure corresponds to the MPI Live Grad School model.

Week 1 Seminar Introduction & Overview ASI

Week 2 Lecture 1 Social Perception 1

Week 3 Lecture 2 Social Perception 2

Week 4 Lecture 3 Social Perception 3

Week 5 Lecture 4 Social Perception 4

Week 6 Lecture 5 Theory of Mind 1

Week 7 Lecture 6 Theory of Mind 2

Week 8 Lecture 7 Theory of Mind 3

Week 9 Lecture 8 Theory of Mind 4

Week 10 Lecture 9 Social Interaction 1

Week 11 Lecture 10 Social Interaction 2

Week 12 Lecture 11 Social Interaction 3

Week 13 Lecture 12 Social Interaction 4

Week 14 Seminar 2 Integration of Course Content & Final Reflections