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The new ghosts in the machine: 'Pragmatist' AI and the conceptual perils of anthropomorphic description

Brooker, Phillip; Dutton, William; Mair, Michael


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    "description": "<p>Algorithms are becoming interwoven with increasingly many aspects of our affairs.<br>\nThat process of interweaving has brought with it a language laden with anthropomorphic<br>\ndescriptions of the technologies involved, which variously hint at &lsquo;humanesque&rsquo;<br>\nor &lsquo;conscious-like&rsquo; activity occurring within or behind their operations. Indeed,<br>\nthe term &lsquo;Artificial Intelligence&rsquo; (AI) seems to refer to a quality that is thought<br>\nto be largely human; namely, intelligence. However, while anthropomorphic descriptions<br>\nmay be useful or harmless, when taken at face value they generate a false<br>\npicture of algorithms as well as of our own thinking and reasoning practices by<br>\ntreating them as analogues of one another rather than as distinct. Focusing on the<br>\nalgorithm, and what it is misleadingly said to be and to be like, in this article we<br>\noutline three &lsquo;perspicuous representations&rsquo; (Wittgenstein 1953: &sect;122) of AI in specific<br>\ncontexts. Drawing on Wes Sharrock&rsquo;s ethnomethodological and Wittgensteinian<br>\nwork, our aim is to demonstrate that by attending to the particular, occasioned<br>\nand locally accountable, not to say highly specified, usages of language that accompany<br>\nthe &lsquo;New AI&rsquo; in particular, we can avoid being haunted by the new task performing<br>\nghosts currently being discursively conjured up in our algorithmic machines.</p>", 
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    "title": "The new ghosts in the machine: 'Pragmatist' AI and the conceptual perils of anthropomorphic description", 
    "journal": {
      "volume": "16", 
      "pages": "272-298", 
      "title": "Ethnographic studies"
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    "publication_date": "2019-10-04", 
    "creators": [
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        "affiliation": "University of Liverpool", 
        "name": "Brooker, Phillip"
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        "affiliation": "Peak, Manchester", 
        "name": "Dutton, William"
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      {
        "affiliation": "University of Liverpool", 
        "name": "Mair, Michael"
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    "notes": "+ Sprache: eng", 
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