[Humanist] 23.303 fears and desires

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Sep 18 07:49:36 CEST 2009


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 303.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Sterling Fluharty <phdinhistory at gmail.com>                (85)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.302 fears and desires

  [2]   From:    renata lemos <renata.lemoz at eletrocooperativa.org>         (68)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.302 fears and desires


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 16 Sep 2009 06:24:53 -0600
        From: Sterling Fluharty <phdinhistory at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.302 fears and desires
        In-Reply-To: <20090916055704.EA6542F729 at woodward.joyent.us>

Willard,

In light of your recent discoveries, are you exploring popular culture  
for evidence of how fears of and faith in intelligent machines have  
been fueled throughout and since the cold war?

Why should scientists and the public be agnostic about the goals of  
artificial intelligence?  Is the pace of technological advancement  
over the last century not reason enough to expect that scientists are  
moving closer to making machines intelligent?  Or should we be  
skeptical when scientists put their faith in hypotheses which are not  
yet based on observable phenomenon?  What is the difference between  
ambivalence and agnosticism when it comes to evaluating the hopes and  
dreams of the artificial intelligence community?

Lastly, can we afford to remain armchair digital humanists when the  
well being, if not the very lives, of some humans may be at stake?

Best wishes,
Sterling Fluharty
University of New Mexico



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 16 Sep 2009 10:23:50 -0300
        From: renata lemos <renata.lemoz at eletrocooperativa.org>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.302 fears and desires
        In-Reply-To: <20090916055704.EA6542F729 at woodward.joyent.us>


agnosticism is sounding buddhist to me!

: )

On Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 2:57 AM, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 302.
>         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>        Date: Wed, 16 Sep 2009 06:56:22 +0100
>        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: fears and desires
>
> Some here may have read earlier this year an attention-grabbing story in
> the New York Times, for 26 July, "Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart
> Man", www.nytimes.com/2009/07/26/science/26robot.html. It reports on a
> conference of AI folks, held at the Asilomar conference site in
> California, in February 2009, a preliminary report of which may be found
> on the AAAI site, www.aaai.org/Organization/Panel/panel-note.pdf.
> Whatever else one may say about this, the mere fact that it would happen
> is significant.
>
> I ran across the report of this event thanks to Pamela McCorduck, whose
> book, Machines Who Think: A Personal Inquiry into the History and
> Prospects of Artificial Intelligence (1979; rev edn 2003), is very much
> worth the candle -- not only for the transcripts of interviews she held
> with some of the major figures in AI all those years ago but also for
> the balance she strikes between documentary and reflective writing. Her
> chapters entitled "Us and Them" (8) and "L'Affaire Dreyfus" (9) shed
> more light than most attempts I've encountered to deal with people's
> fears and articles of faith concerning what computing machines are
> capable of.
>
> That the fears are not generational, not an artefact of the time when
> machines were first coming into public view and getting so thoroughly
> involved in the Cold War, is strongly suggested by the Asilomar event.
> I'd say we have simply dozed off in our comfortable chairs with our warm
> laptops silently at the ready.
>
> The polarization among smart people as well as not so smart, between
> those who wave the garlic and those who embrace the faith, makes me
> wonder what happened to true agnosticism. Must we commit to advance?
>
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
> King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/ http://staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/%7Ewmccarty/ 
> ;
> Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
> Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.
>


-- 
renata lemos
http://www.eletrocooperativa.org
http://liquidoespaco.wordpress.com/





More information about the Humanist mailing list