Gender/body/machine

Ratio 15 (4):354–375 (2002)
Abstract
This article considers the question of embodiment in relation to gender and whether there are models of artificial intelligence (AI) which can enrol a concept of gender in their design. A central concern for feminist epistemology is the role of the body in the making of knowledge. I consider how this may inform a critique of the AI project and the related area of artificial life (A-Life), the latter area being of most interest in this paper. I explore briefly the tensions between the treatment of the body in different branches of feminist theory, especially the tensions between the approaches of feminist sociology and feminist philosophy. I explore the ways in which writing from category theory and anthropological phenomenology offers rich suggestions as to how the body has been left out of objectivist accounts of epistemology, but struggles to offer an account of why. In its analysis of the links between women, knowledge and the body, feminist revisions of epistemology offer a more convincing why. This is explored briefly through a critique of symbolic AI, and more substantially through the problem of embodiment in artificial life
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