BSP Podcast: Jonathon Tuckett – When does a bot become a person?

podcast update

Season one of our podcast continues with another panel presentation from the British Society for Phenomenology Annual Conference in 2016.

Season 1 episode 13: 12 May 2017

This recording is of Jonathon Tuckett’s presentation ‘The Talos Principle: When does a bot become a person?’. You can listen to this episode on the BSP’s Podbean site, and you can also find it on iTunes and all good podcasting apps by searching ‘BSP Podcast’.

Abstract: “The current sophistication of bot software on the internet – particularly as they appear in chatrooms – has given rise to situations in which internet users have struggled to distinguish between other “real” users and bots. But the question is, when does the bot become a “real” user itself? At core this is the question of philosophical anthropology: What is “Man”? And, whether AI and robots will someday constitute “Man” also. This question lies at the heart of the video game Talos Principle in which an AI program must “prove” its humanity. Similarly, films like I, Robot, Automata, and Ex Machina have implicitly addressed this question, and what makes these science fiction based examples interesting is how they centre on the theme of “deviance”. In this respect they deviate from religious and social scientific responses to philosophical anthropology which have often centred on what I call the human prejudice: defining “Man” in terms of the biological human species.  In this paper I will argue that these science fiction-based considerations present implicit responses to philosophical anthropology that are closer to the more explicit formulations found in the phenomenologies of Max Scheler and Jean-Paul Sartre. Particularly in their approaches to intersubjectivity, there is an attempt to escape this human prejudice through their considerations of how we know the Other is “present”. This paper will argue that these science fiction based examples provide a “sociological” indicator of the validity of their thought in this area.”

The British Society for Phenomenology’s Annual Conference took place at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester, UK during September, 2016. It gathered together philosophers, literary scholars, phenomenologists, and practitioners exploring phenomenological theory and its practical application. It covered a broad range of areas and issues including the arts, ethics, medical humanities, mental health, education, technology, feminism, politics and political governance, with contributions throwing a new light on both traditional phenomenological thinkers and the themes associated with classical phenomenology. More information about the conference can be found here.