, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 197–220 | Cite as

The social acceptability of AI systems: Legitimacy, epistemology and marketing

  • Romain Laufer


The expression, ‘the culture of the artificial’ results from the confusion between nature and culture, when nature mingles with culture to produce the ‘artificial’ and science becomes ‘the science of the artificial’. Artificial intelligence can thus be defined as the ultimate expression of the crisis affecting the very foundation of the system of legitimacy in Western society, i.e. Reason, and more precisely, Scientific Reason. The discussion focuses on the emergence of the culture of the artificial and the radical forms of pragmatism, sophism and marketing from a French philosophical perspective. The paper suggests that in the postmodern age of the ‘the crisis of the systems of legitimacy’, the question of social acceptability of any action, especially actions arising out of the application of AI, cannot be avoided.


Artificial intelligence Culture of the artificial Epistemology Sophism Common sense psychology Social acceptability Postmodernism Aesthetics 


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Notes and References

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    When one considers the debate on the social acceptability of Artificial Intelligence, one must immediately distinguish between those who believe it exists and is (or will be) well defined, those who believe it is not possible to say whether it exists or not, and those who believe it is possible to prove it does not exist. The first category can be termed ‘A.I. scientists’. The latter can be divided into the optimists and the pessimists. The optimists constitute what Dreyfus calls the ‘Artificial Intelligentsia’, i.e. Simon, Minsky, Feigenbaum. They believe that what is at stake is actually, through the operation of computers, achieving two goals: the understanding of human intelligence and the use of the power of intelligence thus understood. The pessimists correspond to a group that we shall designate by the expression ‘concerned scientists’. While this category is logically possible and should be composed of preoccupied scientists, I must say that I cannot find a concrete example of this position. This may be due to the fact that those who are negative with respect to A.I. tend to deny its very existence. The second category can be called ‘A.I. technologists’, as they believe that A.I. systems are technological systems which should not nessarily be assimilated with the production of actual intelligence, even if their performance in terms of simulating human behavior cannot be limited on ana priori basis. The optimists of this category can be found among the many researchers in the field of A.I. who, although they do not share the ideology or dogmas of the ‘Artificial Intelligentsia’, devote their time and interest to the development of ever more sophisticated systems. The pessimists could be termed ‘concerned technologists’ as they are afraid of the power developed by these techniques and as they would like to see limitations put on certain types of applications. Joseph Weisenbaum seems to support such a position inComputer Power and Human Reason. Finally, we find those who think it can be proven that developing A.I. is not a project one can carry out with a computer. These could be called the ‘Sceptics’. Here again two positions can be found. The pessimistic view is best represented by H. Dreyfus in his philosophical criticism of the notion of A.I. We may note that this pessimism concerns the very existence of A.I. and not its consequences, as something which does not exist cannot have consequences — at least, as long as nobody contends it exists and persuades other people of its existence. This explains the latent accusation made to the “Artificial Intelligentsia” by Dreyfus who sees the latter's enthusiasm and certitude relative to the existence of A.I. as part of a conscious or unconscious strategy to obtain funding and recognition by business and academia: in other words, A.I. could be the name for a marketing strategy rather than the name of an intellectual achievement. This accusation is made explicitly by Winograd and Flores who share with Dreyfus the idea that A.I. is not a philosophically sound concept, but have an otherwise positive attitude toward the technological developments which have taken place under this relatively inadequate banner.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Romain Laufer
    • 1
  1. 1.Groupe HECJouy-en-JosasFrance

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