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Humanist Archives: July 5, 2021, 8:58 a.m. Humanist 35.126 - questions about AI from an unexpected source

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 126.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2021-07-05 07:05:44+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: questions about AI from an unexpected source

In the following, the plurality of 'intelligence' is not questioned 
directly. Although the author is quite right that what digital machines 
do "is not thinking as heretofore conceived and experienced", it 
is the result of a very long-running programme of mimicry, of taking 
Turing's "quick and dirty definition of machine intelligence" with 
Herbert Simon as "the method of science" (Mirowski, Machine Dreams, 
pp. 462f). Much for us to do here, I'd think. Anyhow, the following 
teaser is meant as a temptation to read the whole (but short) opinion 
piece by a noted figure from the recent past.

> Ultimately, the term artificial intelligence may be a misnomer. To be
> sure, these machines can solve complex, seemingly abstract problems
> that had previously yielded only to human cognition. But what they do
> uniquely is not thinking as heretofore conceived and experienced...
> What will be the impact on human cognition generally? What is the
> role of ethics in this process, which consists in essence of the
> acceleration of choices?
> Typically, these questions are left to technologists and to the
> intelligentsia of related scientific fields. Philosophers and others
> in the field of the humanities who helped shape previous concepts of
> world order tend to be disadvantaged, lacking knowledge of AI’s
> mechanisms or being overawed by its capacities. In contrast, the
> scientific world is impelled to explore the technical possibilities
> of its achievements, and the technological world is preoccupied with
> commercial vistas of fabulous scale. The incentive of both these
> worlds is to push the limits of discoveries rather than to comprehend
> them.

Henry A. Kissinger, "How the Enlightenment Ends. Philosophically,
intellectually—in every way—human society is unprepared for the rise of
artificial intelligence." The Atlantic Monthly, June 2018. [A version with
adverts at:



Willard McCarty,
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

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