Philosophy Overview

Philosophical Implications of AI

Artificial Intelligence cannot avoid philosophy.

If a computer program is to behave intelligently in the real world, it must be provided with some kind of framework into which to fit particular facts it is told or discovers. This amounts to at least a fragment of some kind of philosophy, however naive.

- John McCarthy
Mathematical Logic in Artificial Intelligence. Daedalus 117(1): 297-310, Winter 1988

Many traditional philosophical questions take new twists in the context of intelligent machines. For example: What is a mind? What is consciousness? Where do we draw the line on responsibility for actions when dealing with robots, computers, programming? Do human beings occupy a privileged place in the universe? "Is it reasonable to ascribe consciousness to a droll and well-mannered aunt, yet deny it in a robot that behaves like one?" "How do we acquire knowledge of the world? What do our languages tell us about our minds or the world? What is knowledge? What is a proof? What is art? Most of the sources listed below discuss issues in the philosophy of mind, epistemology, and the philosophy of language. Social and ethical considerations are certainly related, but these are listed separately, on the Ethics & Social Issues pages. Similarly, many works of science fiction deal with philosophical and social issues, and these are listed separately, on the Science Fiction page.


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