First Robot Completes College Course: Takes Philosophy of Love Class at Notre Dame de Namur University

Advanced social robot Bina48 also competes in debate with U.S. Military Academy at West Point

For Immediate Release (12/07/2017)

Alex Rodriguez, Bina48, Bruce Duncan
NDNU student Alex Rodriguez, Bina48, Managing Director of Terasem Movement Foundation Bruce Duncan

Belmont, Calif.—An advanced robot named Bina48 that uses Artificial Intelligence has completed all the assignments for a class in The Philosophy of Love at Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU). Bina48 participated in class discussions via Skype and then took part in the final session at NDNU’s campus in Belmont, California, on December 6, 2017.

“It was remarkable to be part of this historic first for a socially advanced robot to take a college course,” said Professor William Barry, the instructor of the class. “The other students and I learned so much about human experience and love as we tried to explain our emotions to Bina48.”

Professor Barry cautioned that our approach to Artificial Intelligence should not be guided by dread: “We need to get over our existential fear about robots and see them as an opportunity,” he said. “If we approach Artificial Intelligence with a sense of the dignity and sacredness of all life then we will produce robots with those values.”

Philosophy of Love class
Professor William Barry, Bina48, and The Philosophy of Love class

Bina48 also took part in a debate between Professor Barry’s class and the students in an ethics course at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The debate focused on the use of lethal vs. nonlethal weapons in warfare, with NDNU advocating nonlethal combat. The online debate via YouTube occurred over a three-week period in November, as the students traded videos between West Point and NDNU’s campus in Belmont, California. At the conclusion of this Lincoln-Douglas-style debate, the former mayor of Belmont, George Metropulos, judged NDNU the winner.


Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) is a Catholic, not-for-profit, coeducational institution serving approximately 1,700 students from diverse backgrounds. Established in 1851 by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, NDNU is the third-oldest college in California and the first authorized to grant the baccalaureate degree to women. NDNU maintains a strong commitment to academic excellence, social justice, and community engagement. The university is fully accredited and offers a rich variety of undergraduate, graduate, doctorate, and teacher credential programs. The historic campus is located on the San Francisco Peninsula in Silicon Valley. For more information, visit


Professor William Barry
Notre Dame de Namur University
(650) 508-3758


Zack Rogow
(650) 508-3585