Digital Biota II
Margaret A. Boden is Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Sussex, a Fellow (and former Vice-President) of the British Academy, a member of the Academia Europaea, a former Vice-President (and Chairman of Council) of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence. Her work has been translated into fourteen foreign languages.

Her books include Purposive Explanation in Psychology
(Harvard University Press), Artificial Intelligence and Natural Man (MIT Press/Basic Books), Piaget (Fontana Modern Masters/Viking Penguin), Minds and Mechanisms (Cornell University Press), Computer Models of Mind (Cambridge University Press, 1988), Artificial Intelligence in Psychology (MIT Press, 1989), The Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence, ed. (Oxford University Press, 1989/90), The Creative Mind (Weidenfeld, 1990/Basic Books, 1991), Dimensions of Creativity, ed. (MIT Press, 1994), and The Philosophy of Artificial Life (ed. -- Oxford University Press, 1996).

Her degrees are in medical sciences, philosophy, and psychology (including a PhD from Harvard and an ScD from Cambridge). She has lectured widely, to both specialist and general audiences, in North and South America, Europe, India, the USSR, and the Pacific. She has also appeared on many radio/TV programmes, in UK and elsewhere.

She was the founding-Dean of Sussex University's School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences, a pioneering centre for research into intelligence and the mechanisms underlying it -- in humans, other animals, or machines. The School's teaching and research involves an unusual combination of the humanities, science, and technology.

Abstract of discussion:
"The Social Implications of Artificial Life"

Suppose A-Life scientists had developed/evolved lifelike artefacts, virtual or robotic. What then? No-one knows. But A-Life has the potential to challenge our attitudes to technology in general and (some) computerized systems in particular, and to terrestrial life in general and human beings in particular. It raises issues of animism, technophobia/technophilia, and human self-respect -- each of which could deeply affect our social relations and view of ourselves. It could also interact with the religious impulse in various (conflicting) ways.

One way to think about some of these matters is by means of an "index of zappability" of different artefacts, an empirical measure of the degree to which people would in fact be willing to destroy the artefact. But even if we had all the measures on the index for a particular point in time, they would require careful interpretation to gauge the empirical implications, and even more careful philosophical argument to justify or criticize them.


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Digital Biota 2 is sponsored by

CyberLife Technology