[SIGCIS-Members] Some suggestions on the early history of the ethics of AI

Mark J. Nelson mjn at anadrome.org
Mon Apr 23 11:23:27 PDT 2018

Alberts, Gerard <g.alberts at uva.nl> writes:

> The crucial book is Hubert L. Dreyfus, What computers still can't do. A critique of artificial reason (MIT, 1972. 1992). The original What computers can't do, is basically a philosophical argumentation. The revised edition has an ample introduction offering a most readible historical view of the debate as it evolved.

For more historical context on Dreyfus's role as AI critic, I like a recent
retrospective paper he wrote. This one focuses on the constructive
flipside of his famous critique of AI, his less-famous efforts to
cultivate, through collaborations with AI researchers, a different kind
of AI that would be responsive to his critiques. He doesn't think the
efforts were successful, but in my opinion it's an interesting
postmortem of that line of work:

Hubert L. Dreyfus (2007). Why Heideggerian AI failed and how fixing it
would require making it more Heideggerian. Artificial Intelligence
171(18): 1137-1160. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.artint.2007.10.012

More solidly on the original ethics point, one of the Dreyfus-influenced
AI researchers, Phil Agre, has a nice article on how to reconceive of AI
research as a "critical technical practice" (admittedly not quite the
same way of framing things as the "ethics" frame, but related):

Philip E. Agre (1997). Toward a Critical Technical Practice: Lessons
Learned in Trying to Reform AI. In: Bridging the Great Divide: Social
Science, Technical Systems, and Cooperative Work, Erlbaum, 1997.


Mark J. Nelson
The MetaMakers Institute
Falmouth University

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