2003 Abstracts Stage 3

Thinking Machines and Mechanical Thinkers

Holly Scott Russell, 2003, Stage 3

CONCEPTS/KEY WORDS: Thinking Machines: Philosophical implications of artificial intelligence, machines emulating human behaviour, Turing Test, notions of behaviourism, dualism and materialism, free will and determinism, strong and weak AI and intelligence. Mechanical Thinkers Affect of rise of technology on human behaviour. Dehumanising effect of treating people as machines in the work place. Modern emphasis on productivity, efficiency, and systematisation. Leisure time. Importance of play, playing at work, modern day work practices. OBJECTIVES 1. To investigate the philosophical implications of Artificial Intelligence, looking at factors that are taken into consideration outside the mathematical workings of a thinking machine such as notions of intelligence, behaviourism and free will. 2. To understand the philosopher Martin Heidegger’s opinion of the effect of technology on the world and on humans as a whole in his essay The Question Concerning Technology. 3. To look at a more modern interpretation of the effects of technology by way of Donald Norman, an expert on the human-side of technology, and his book The Invisible Computer. 4. To look at ways to combat the feeling of dehumanisation in using technology, particularly in the workplace, by investigating modern day work practices that incorporate work and play. SOURCES: Gottfried Leibniz, Alan Turing, Rene Descartes, Aaron Sloman, Donald Norman, Martin Heidegger, Herbert Marcuse, Institute for Play. PROJECT TERRITORY/FIELD OF EXPLORATION: I will use two companies that have adopted unconventional work practices in order to preserve the well being of their employees, producing a healthier environment which promotes quality of work rather than quantity. I will use an advertising agency called St. Lukes in London and a number of companies in the US who have adopted ingenious ways of improving their working environments. CHANGE The changes I will show are through the developments in the idea of a thinking machine, the change in the rise of technology and the way in which it affects our lives today. The difference in thought between Martin Heidegger and Donald Norman. THE GAP BETWEEN HUMANS AND THINGS Obvious separation of mind and matter is involved, the implications of modelling a machine on the brain, the difficulty for humans to work with machines that do not function as humans do, the separation between the individual and society when progress, and society with it, no longer facilitate individuality. My project tries to bridge the gap between humans and computers by trying to establish a healthier attitude towards them, especially in the workplace.

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