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College of Engineering and Computing


The Philosophy of Computing

Student Chooses Unusual Education Path

No longer just the plot of a science fiction movie – robots and people must work together daily.  And as robots become more “intelligent” and people rely more and more on machines, the relationship between us must involve.  Understanding this relationship led Clifton Perry down a path few students have chartered. Perry earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy before deciding to attend the University of South Carolina and seek a second degree in computer science.

“I found that my degree in Philosophy somewhat limited my ability to enter into careers in technology,” said Perry. “Employers appreciated my conceptual side and saw my passion, but some expressed that I needed further computing programming and engineering knowledge.”

Perry plans to research artificial intelligence – specifically how robots and people interact.

 “I believe computer science will add the practical, scientific knowledge that I need to better understanding not only artificial intelligence, robotics, and other technological areas, but also the people involved in those fields.”

 Perry stressed that as machines grow in their ability to understand humanity, people must grow in its understanding of machines.

 “I want to bridge the gap between machines and humans. I believe I can instill the philosophies in both of those parties that will allow them to not only move forward, but to do so together. There need not be fear of a robotic uprising or some other conflict with the machines. In fact, the two can help build each other up with limitless potential.”

Perry is currently volunteering in the Assistive Robotics and Technology Lab under the direction of Dr. Jenay Beer who shares his interest in examining how technology and people interact. Beer, who holds a joint faculty position between the College of Engineering and Computing and the College of Social Work, earned an undergraduate degree in psychology before earning her master’s and doctorate in the emerging field of engineering psychology.

 Beer’s research focuses on enabling older adults to live independently longer through the use of new technologies and community services.