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Humanist Archives: July 5, 2021, 6:54 a.m. Humanist 35.125 - an oppositional artificial intelligence

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 125.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2021-07-04 17:18:24+00:00
        From: <>
        Subject: Oppositional AI and Consulting Oracles


I have been mulling over your recent incitement to think about the possibility
of oppositional AI. In the background to this mulling is Sherry Turkle's
characterization of the "robotic moment" in _Alone Together_. One of the key
components of that moment is the human accommodation. Turkle : "Even before we
make the robots, we remake ourselves as people ready to be their companions."[1]

What arose to mind in reading Turkle and contemplating your desiderata, was a
possible hint in the structure of the algorithms of divination (at least of
textual divination: Ifa, I Ching, Sortes Biblicae). In a sense the human
inquirer molds their behaviour to receive guidance from the divination machine.

- The initial step is to focus on the question, to concentrate on clarification.

- The next step is to use a random event generator to select navigation of the
textual corpus.

- Then the human user reads text (or recites proverb) selected through random

- The selected text is interpreted in light of the question

- The steps are re-enacted to seek further guidance if the oracle proves

The point I want to emphasize here is that the oracle machines are not
necessarily approached as living beings (as in Turkle's robotic moment) but that
the human expectation of a sense-making response sets the stage for
disappointment. Which leads me to my question: how much does human
disappointment play a role in your imagining of oppositional AI? Without the
propensity for humans to be disappointed in the flow of semiosis (unmet
expectations of semantic fulness), can the AI be truly oppositional?


~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
François Lachance
Wannabe Professor of Theoretical and Applied Rhetoric

to think is often to sort, to store and to shuffle: humble, embodied tasks

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