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Humanist Archives: March 27, 2023, 7:52 a.m. Humanist 36.483 - followup: agency & intelligence

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 483.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2023-03-26 23:05:11+00:00
        From: Michael Falk <>
        Subject: followup: agency & intelligence

For anyone following this debate about agency, intention and authorship, I can
recommend Krista Kennedy’s reflections on bot-authored texts in Wikipedia. Her
treatment of the topic is admirably rational and concise:

Kennedy, Krista. “Textual Machinery: Authorial Agency and Bot-Written Texts in
Wikipedia.” In The Responsibilities of Rhetoric, edited by Michelle Smith and
Barbara Warnick, 303–9. Long Grove, Illinois: Waveland, 2010.

She observes that there has always been a scale of ‘authorship’, and the
dichotomy between Romantic intentional authorship and the poststructuralist
‘author function’ or ‘death of the author’ is only one way the problem of
intentionality and authorship has been resolved in history. The problem of
authorship has been resolved in a sophisticated way by Wikipedians and the bots
with whom they collaborate, without much reference to the arguments and theories
that we humanists usually rely on. Kennedy also makes interesting observations
about the way United States law has resolved the question of authorship, and
foresees trouble ahead—and all this before ChatGPT unleashed another wave of
hysteria about language models.

[NB: Kennedy's chapter is available at:
<>. --WM]

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