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Keynote: What's it Like to be a Bot?

Summary

What do we mean by intelligence? How do the limitations of language leave us floundering with regards to discussing our relationship with ‘algorithms’ and emerging machine intelligence? I argue that the limitations in the discourse surrounding AI are remarkably similar to the problems found in psychology and philosophy relating to other minds.

Description

Taking the title from the seminal philosphy of mind paper by Thomas Nagel (What is it like to be a Bat (1974)) this talk looks at the problems surrounding Artificial Intelligence, illustrated with examples from my own artistic practice.

What do we mean by intelligence? How do the limitations of language leave us floundering with regards to discussing our relationship with ‘algorithms’ and emerging machine intelligence? I argue that the limitations in the discourse surrounding AI are remarkably similar to the problems found in psychology and philosophy relating to other minds.

Much has been said about the forthcoming ‘singularity’, but little attention is being paid to the signals and signs already emerging on this path. My artworks play in this space, highlighting the potentials and limitations inherent in existing technologies and questioning our relationship with the world of bots.

We already live in an algorithmically mediated world, though in many ways we remain blind to the ramifications. The world of the future will be teeming with intelligent systems, though they may not conform to our narrow anthropomorphic perspective on what intelligence is. For us to prepare for the future, perhaps we need to change the way we think about thinking, just as the machines are changing theirs.

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