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The World is Not Digital: An Imaginary Dialog with the Ghost of AI pioneer and AI-Critic Joseph Weizenbaum on our Contemporary Information Society

Time: Mon 2019-01-21 13.00

Location: Room 1440, Level 3, Lindstedtsvägen 3

Lecturer: Anders Hedman, MID

The late Joseph Weizenbaum was one of the most well-known critics of AI and at the same time one of the most well-known pioneers of AI. In this lecture we will examine some of his critical writings. In his recently translated Islands in the Cyberstream, Joseph Weizenbaum revealed that in Computer Power and Human Reason from four decades earlier he had one essential position:

… the world is not binary, it is not just made out of zeros and ones. I do not believe that everything can be reduced to long chains of 0 and 1. I don’t think the world is like that.

How are we to understand these statements? They seem to offer what philosophers call an ontological analysis of reality. Why did Weizenbaum make them and is his position still relevant today a decade after his death? In my talk I will discuss these questions in relation to contemporary discussions of AI and human-computer interaction. I hope to show how Weizenbaum can help us better understand where we are today in our modern information society and where we might be heading. The lecture is meant to indicate some of the research questions that I am working on.