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Humanist Archives: Oct. 29, 2021, 9:28 a.m. Humanist 35.332 - psychoanalysis of a digital unconscious &c.

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 332.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2021-10-28 07:27:19+00:00
        From: maurizio lana <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.327: psychoanalysis of a digital unconscious &c.

the matter of imitation is relevant.

i would like to recall that it is from the very beginning of the
field of AI that the imitation plays a central role. (i doubt that
it is really so also today for the developers. the
focus on imitation could be marketing of AI, in order to make it
suitable to narration, and suitable to be accepted by people: "look,
it is not alien, it is similar to me!" "look, it writes like dylan
thomas but also like jk rowlings! wonderful!")

three historical passages.

in 1950 Alan Turing in his famous article (Turing, Alan Mathison.
1950. «Computing Machinery and Intelligence». Mind LIX
(236): 433–60.
had the first paragraph titled "the imitation game" with the
definition of the "Turing test" where the intelligence of the
machine will show when its written answers to a human interrogator
will be indistinguishable from those of a human.

in 1955 in the Dartmouth project on AI (McCarthy, John, Marvin L.
Minsky, Nathaniel Rochester, e Claude Elwood Shannon. 1955. «A
proposal for the Dartmouth summer research project on Artificial
the objective of AI was described with these words: "For the present
purpose the artificial intelligence problem is taken to be that of
making a machine behave in ways that would be called intelligent if
a human were so behaving."

in 2019 about this description of AI in the Dartmouth project (and
the about the Turing test) Luciano Floridi says (Floridi, Luciano, e
Josh Cowls. 2019. «A Unified Framework of Five Principles for AI in
Society». Harvard Data Science Review 1 (1).

The latter scenario is a fallacy, and smacks
of superstition. Just because a dishwasher cleans the dishes as
well as (or even better than) I do does not mean that it cleans
them like I do, or needs any intelligence to achieve its task. The
same counterfactual understanding of AI underpins the Turing test
(Floridi, Taddeo, & Turilli, 2009 ), which, in this case,
checks the ability of a machine to perform a task in such a way
that the outcome would be indistinguishable from the outcome of a
human agent working to achieve the same task (Turing, 1950).
the fact that an AI system has the syntax doesn't mean that
it has the semantics, or that its semantics if any be
similar to ours. and this is well described by your example of the
chess play. but.

but the lack of semantics is appealing in view of a terse, dry,
techno society where compassion is absent. where no one gets in
touch with blood, sweat, smell of fatigue.


Il 28/10/21 09:02, Tim Smithers ha

So why, I keep wondering, do we think that systems built using
so called Deep Learning techniques, with massive amount of
data, that imitate, often convincingly, some things people can
do, are replications of what people do?

Did Deep Blue (II) play chess or just imitate chess playing?
Did it just look like it played chess?  I'm serious.  Garry
Kasparov had to play chess to engage with Deep Blue in the
intended way, for sure.  Deep Blue moved it's chess pieces in
legal ways, and in ways that made it hard, and sometimes
impossible, for Kasparov to win the chess game.  Did Deep Blue
know it had won, in the way Kasparov knew he had won, when he
did?  Deep Blue could detect the legal end of a game, sure,
and which colour had won, sure, but this is not wining like it
was for Kasparov.

mural of Giulio Regeni in Mohammed Mahmoud Street, Cairo

the source is
the meaning of the place

Maurizio Lana
Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici
Università del Piemonte Orientale
piazza Roma 36 - 13100 Vercelli
tel. +39 347 7370925

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