Phenomenology: What’s AI got to do with it?

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 22 (3):621-636 (2023)
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Nowadays, philosophers and scientists tend to agree that, even though human and artificial intelligence work quite differently, they can still illuminate aspects of each other, and knowledge in one domain can inspire progress in the other. For instance, the notion of “artificial” or “synthetic” phenomenology has been gaining some traction in recent AI research. In this paper, we ask the question: what (if anything) is the use of thinking about phenomenology in the context of AI, and in particular machine learning? We will isolate one sense of “phenomenology”, namely the sense in which it is commonly understood within analytic philosophy of perception. Then, we will give examples of projects within sensory substitution and restoration science that rely heavily on machine learning and to which, according to us, phenomenology in the sense specified makes a relevant contribution. Finally, we will shed some light on what this contribution looks like and why it is important.



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