No, it's not psychoanalysis for the digitally frustrated, it's just David Weinberger explaining what one can, given a little background reading, make out as Weinbergers objection to Artificial Intelligence. His objection is not about Artificial Intelligence - the engineering field - at all, but rather about the deconstruction of our selves into a set of roles that we play in networks:
1. In the real world, we don't identify everyone. We only identify those about whom we have doubts that we have to resolve for some purpose. [...]2. Real world identifying is the connecting of the thing/person at hand with information relevant to our purpose. There is nothing in this process about a "real self" that has "properties." In the same way, digital identification is about connecting what's in hand with other information we need for some purpose. That's the sense in which there's no "I" in "identity."
In other words: People we really know are not subject to a functional reduction in some functional network. That reduction we only perform when we have to and it is invariably a reduction, destroying the self. But obviously we would object loudly to this reduction applied to our own selves - hence the objection to the reduction applied to others at all. We recognize this effort to humanize our transactions with strangers in the old Cluetrain motto "Markets are conversations".
To return to AI, Weinberger sees the ideology that accompanies the engineering of AI as the complete adoption of such a functional reduction, and therefore sees AI as a completely dehumanizing activity.
I'm not sure I agree - or rather, on moral grounds, and by the same introspective objection Weinberger applies, I'm inclined to accept the position - but I simply cannot make the rational part of my mind forget about complete functional mimicry as something groundbreaking and new. Clearly a machine doing that is doing something that is very special and world changing.
But this thought experiment on the possibilities of AI in principle has the disadvantage compared to Weinberger's point of view that it does not address at all the experience of living in a world of networks, and hanging on to our selves while we do so.
The discussion continues on Weinberger's blog. Posted by Claus at April 20, 2004 01:08 AM | TrackBack (0)