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To Be Human In The Age of Ai

Antonio Santangelo
University of Turin

If we look at the titles of books on the meaning of Artificial Intelligence, whether strong or weak, and, more generally, on the use of algorithms in every sphere of our life, we find that one of the fundamental questions is: what does it mean to be human, in the face of the technologies we are building? Or: what kind of human beings might want to develop these tools? This is what is asked by Tegmark, in Life 3.0. Being Human in the Age of AI (2017), Fry, in Hello World. Being Human in the Age of the Machine (2018), Frischmann and Selinger, in Re-Engineering Humanity (2019), or Pasquale, in New Laws of Robotics. Defending Human Expertise in the Age of AI (2020). In this kind of discourse, humans and AI are not always seen as two ontologically different entities, but, much more often, they are semantic constructs that signify because of similarities and differences that are placed within narratives about who we are and the future we would like to build. Therefore, I want to show how nine of these narratives work, referring both to the scientific essays in which they are carried out, and to fiction, both contemporary and from the past. My aim is to illustrate how the factual and fictional discourses that circulate in our society when we talk about Artificial Intelligence are merely the result of some important general cultural models by which we assign meaning to our experience of everyday life.



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