Knowledge, Technology & Policy 23 (1-2):57-73 (2010)

Artificial intelligence has often been seen as an attempt to reduce the natural mind to informational processes and, consequently, to naturalize philosophy. The many criticisms that were addressed to the so-called “old-fashioned AI” do not concern this attempt itself, but the methods it used, especially the reduction of the mind to a symbolic level of abstraction, which has often appeared to be inadequate to capture the richness of our mental activity. As a consequence, there were many efforts to evacuate the semantical models in favor of elementary physiological mechanisms simulated by information processes. However, these views, and the subsequent criticisms against artificial intelligence that they contain, miss the very nature of artificial intelligence, which is not reducible to a “science of the nature”, but which directly impacts our culture. More precisely, they lead to evacuate the role of the semantic information. In other words, they tend to throw the baby out with the bath-water. This paper tries to revisit the epistemology of artificial intelligence in the light of the opposition between the “sciences of nature” and the “sciences of culture”, which has been introduced by German neo-Kantian philosophers. It then shows how this epistemological view opens on the many contemporary applications of artificial intelligence that have already transformed—and will continue to transform—all our cultural activities and our world. Lastly, it places those perspectives in the context of the philosophy of information and more particularly it emphasizes the role played by the notions of context and level of abstraction in artificial intelligence
Keywords Artificial Intelligence  Epistemology  Philosophy of information  Humanities  Sciences of the nature
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DOI 10.1007/s12130-010-9101-0
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