David Ashford
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The Mechanical Turk
Enduring misapprehensions concerning artificial intelligence
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The sixth chapter will trace the persistence of Promethean horror tropes beyond the apparent collapse of the Late Modernist paradigm, into the neoliberal and post-modernist era. Expanding on issues relating to the crisis in Enlightenment humanist thinking raised in preceding chapters, and addressing concerns central to post-humanist theory relating to the consequences that must follow for human identity arising from the development of artificial intelligence, this chapter outlines an entirely new approach: suggesting that the famous Turing Test has been consistently misinterpreted, and that we are now in a position to see that it is designed to gauge an “uncanny” effect – that is, the extent to which a system for modelling social behaviour can outperform an older, tried-and-tested system for producing such models (i.e. human personalities: a social construct that each of us attempts, with varying success, to perform). The consequences of failing to recognise this are that we are likely to remain “taken in” by such models when they are applied to other aspects of our lives, limiting our freedom of action. While systems for predicting political and economic phenomena are widely believed to have fallen out of favour in the final quarter of the twentieth century, this chapter will demonstrate that such systems actually remain integral to our contemporary economic system, in the form of scenario planning and computer modelling, with the failure to recognise this having often devastating effects.

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A book of monsters

Promethean horror in modern literature and culture

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