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Computer Science Seminar: James Herrick

Thursday, February 7 at 11:00am

VanderWerf Hall, 102
27 Graves Place, Holland, MI 49423-3617

“Framing AI: How We Talk About Artificial Intelligence” by James Herrick Ph.D, Mellon Grand Challenges, Communications Department.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an issue of increasingly urgent international import. In 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that the control of AI will be crucial to global power.  In a “science lesson” to start the Russian school year, Putin said that AI is “the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind.” Tech writer Kevin Kelly calls AI, “the ur-force in our future.  The term “artificial intelligence” came into wide use among computer scientists after MIT researcher John McCarthy imagined in 1960 the possibility of computers not simply managing data, but thinking like human beings.  In 1989 mathematician Roger Penrose defined the objectives of AI as “to imitate, by means of machines…as much of human mental activity as possible, and perhaps to improve upon human abilities in these respects.” Despite such assessments--and despite the fact that the stakes could not be higher—AI remains enigmatic and poorly understood by the public.  The language we employ to describe AI will have important consequences for the technology’s future development and regulation. As a result, efforts to craft linguistic frames for AI are in full swing. Journalist Andrea Morris writes that “we may need a vernacular to talk about non-biological superintelligent agents who display highly skilled behaviors.”  That new vernacular is being forged in contemporary public discourse about AI. This presentation will explore six prominent efforts to frame AI for contemporary audiences, and the implications of each.

James A. Herrick (MA University of California-Davis, PhD University of Wisconsin) is the Guy Vander Jagt Professor of Communication at Hope. Professor Herrick is the author or editor of three books on the rhetoric of technology. He writes and speaks about the history of rhetoric, new religious movements, and the human enhancement movement.

Event Type

Academics, Natural & Applied Sciences Division, Computer Science

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