Phil Agre on Sun, 14 Feb 1999 07:24:39 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> [RRE]IU Symposium Intelligent Machines: The End of Humanity?

     [orig to "Red Rock Eater News Service" <>]

[I realize that most people, regretfully, won't be able to make it to
Bloomington for this event.  I just found it striking that I had never
heard of another meeting with this seemingly obvious premise.  I, by
the way, vote for "incoherent goulash".]

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Date: Sat, 13 Feb 1999 13:37:20 -0500
From: Rob Kling <>
Subject: IU Symposium Intelligent Machines: The End of Humanity?

At IU, Saturday March 6.


As the year 2000 starts rushing headlong towards us, we all are
thinking about many changes.  But how many of us are thinking along
the radical lines of several recent books, all of which -- all
written by highly reputed authorities -- argue that because of the
relentlessly accelerating march of technology, desktop-computer power
will, within just a few decades, far exceed that of the human brain,
and shortly thereafter will even exceed the collective thinking power
of all humanity.  They further argue that such thinking entities
will merge with nanotechnology and virtual reality, and the products
that will emerge from this convergence will be intelligences of an
inconceivably powerful sort, leaving us humans behind in the dust.

        All this is foreseen, at least by these experts, by the end
of the coming century.  Clearly, if there is even the tiniest grain
of truth to what they claim, we should all be profoundly concerned
with these prospects.  We need to evaluate the likelihood that what
they claim is true, the degree to which these forecasts are anathema
to us, and if a true calamity seems in store, then what sorts of
measures might be taken to forestall it before it is too late.
On theother hand, all of this might be seen as groundless poppycock,
as nothing more than what happens when silly science-fiction-addicted
minds splice sloppy and wishful thinking together into an incoherent
goulash.  If this is so, however, then why do these books get
published by top-notch publishers, get reviewed by the nation's top
newspapers, get promoted by the editors of "Scientific American", and
so forth?

        Are we dealing with the sublimest of hokum, or are we dealing
with something to be taken truly seriously?  Whither humanity and
its ever more powerful, ever more flexible, ever more reflective
technology in the coming ten decades?

Welcome and Introduction
        Douglas R. Hofstadter
              College Professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science
              Center for Research on Concepts and Cognition

Panel Chair and Moderator
        J. Michael Dunn
              Oscar R. Ewing Professor of Philosophy and
                 Professor of Computer Science
              Director, Office for Informatics

        Andrew Dillon
              Associate Professor of Information Science
        Thomas F. Gieryn
              Professor of Sociology
        Rob Kling
              Professor of Information Science and Information Systems
              Director, Center for Social Informatics
        Michael A. McRobbie
              Professor of Computer Science and Professor of Philosophy
              Vice President for Information Technology and
              Chief Information Officer at Indiana University
        Gregory J. E. Rawlins
              Associate Professor of Computer Science
        Richard M. Shiffrin
              Luther Dana Waterman Professor of Psychology
              Director, Cognitive Science Program
        Brian Cantwell Smith
              Professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science
        Linda B. Smith
              Chancellors' Professor of Psychology
        John Woodcock
              Associate Professor of English

Rob Kling
The Information Society (journal)
Center for Social Informatics   
Indiana University
10th & Jordan, Room 005C
Bloomington, IN 47405-1801             812-855-9763 // Fax: 855-6166

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 Social Informatics Home Page -->
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"What is Social Informatics and Why Does it Matter?"
D-Lib Magazine    January 1999  Volume 5 Number 1
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