Theory, Culture and Society 22 (1):131-151 (2005)

Researchers in artificial intelligence and robotics often include a timeline stretching into the future in which they predict the convergence between human and artificial intelligence. Ray Kurzweil, for example, predicts that in a mere 100 years humans and intelligent machines will become indistinguishable from one another, both ceasing to have permanent corporeal forms. This article argues that the one thing we can know for sure about the future is that when it arrives, it will be different from what we imagined. The cultural work that predictions like Kurzweil’s perform is less to prognosticate the future than to shape our understanding of what it means to be human in the present. Working from the ‘sense-think-act’ paradigm foundational to work in artificial intelligence and robotics, this article argues that predictions in all three areas feed back to affect how the human is envisioned in the present. The reconfigurations these predictions bring about are to downplay consciousness, embodied cognition, and evolutionary inertia. The article concludes by critically evaluating contemporary resistances to the posthuman, especially in the writings of Rodney Brooks and Francis Fukuyama.
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DOI 10.1177/0263276405048438
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References found in this work BETA

Consciousness Explained.William G. Lycan - 1993 - Philosophical Review 102 (3):424.
The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit.S. Turkle - 1985 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63:520.
Society of Mind.Marvin Minsky - 1991 - Artificial Intelligence 48 (3):371-396.

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