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Agents of alienation

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In the conclusion to his article, ‘Consciousness as an engineering issue’ (JCS, 2 (1995), pp. 52-66), Donald Michie argues that the inclusion of intelligent computer systems in workgroups will lead to a blurring of the distinction between human and machine consciousness. He also refers to the increasing use of intelligent agent software in commercial applications. Given the exponential growth in the availability of on-line information through networked computer systems, AI routines are being developed to filter information, based on the user's own stated needs and preferences. In this article Jaron Lanier, who originated the term ‘virtual reality’, argues that the use of intelligent agents will devalue human intelligence and creativity and diminish the role of conscious experience. The mind-body debate needs to move beyond the confines of academic philosophy as it has important implications for practical issues such as the design of computer systems.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 134 Duane Street, Apt. 3N, New York, NY 10013.

Publication date: 1995-01-01

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