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Challenges for an Ontology of Artificial Intelligence

02/25/2019
by   Scott H. Hawley, et al.
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Of primary importance in formulating a response to the increasing prevalence and power of artificial intelligence (AI) applications in society are questions of ontology. Questions such as: What "are" these systems? How are they to be regarded? How does an algorithm come to be regarded as an agent? We discuss three factors which hinder discussion and obscure attempts to form a clear ontology of AI: (1) the various and evolving definitions of AI, (2) the tendency for pre-existing technologies to be assimilated and regarded as "normal," and (3) the tendency of human beings to anthropomorphize. This list is not intended as exhaustive, nor is it seen to preclude entirely a clear ontology, however, these challenges are a necessary set of topics for consideration. Each of these factors is seen to present a 'moving target' for discussion, which poses a challenge for both technical specialists and non-practitioners of AI systems development (e.g., philosophers and theologians) to speak meaningfully given that the corpus of AI structures and capabilities evolves at a rapid pace. Finally, we present avenues for moving forward, including opportunities for collaborative synthesis for scholars in philosophy and science.

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