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Humanist Archives: Sept. 8, 2021, 6:36 a.m. Humanist 35.220 - a will-o'-the-wisp?

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 220.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2021-09-08 05:29:35+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: AI?

A call for contributions to a collection of essays begins thus:

> Artificial intelligence (AI) has garnered growing scholarly attention
> in the communication field and beyond as AI becomes omnipresent in
> everyday lives from search engine through voice recognition
> technology to mobile news apps.

Consider "... as AI becomes omnipresent in everyday lives..." What
exactly is this 'AI'? Statements of this sort are commonplace, as if
completely unremarkable, as if by referring to 'AI' one conjured
something definite into existence. But what is it? Does this refer to
the illusion of a quality of sentient beings? To a manufactured product
that gives this illusion? To a set of implemented algorithms? Or, as I
prefer, a question, or bundle of questions with a phenomenal referent?

A further question of my own. Is it now a feature of digital humanities
(if DH would claim the above) that one adopts a concept, something other
people are talking about, then devotes one's time to chasing (a.k.a.
studying) its 'impact', its effect on others, on society, without stopping 
to question it, to look critically into it?



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

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