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The calculation of meaning: on the misunderstanding of new artificial intelligence as culture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-278
Number of pages15
JournalCulture, Theory and Critique
Issue number3-4
Early online date18 Sep 2019
Accepted/In press2 Sep 2019
E-pub ahead of print18 Sep 2019
Published2 Oct 2019


King's Authors


A wide range of different AI systems based on the promising technology of machine learning has been implemented into everyday life without further ado, at times supplanting and delivering institutional decisions. Following Gilbert Simondon’s analysis in On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects, this essay explores the contemporary technical objects of new Artificial Intelligence systems to ask if their premature acceptance might be based on a misunderstanding: AI systems are able to calculate meaning, whereby they are performing a task traditionally rooted in the sphere of culture. Are AI-informed technical objects, because of their new ability of calculating meaning, mistakenly being read as an ‘aesthetic object’ thereby creating the illusion of being ‘integrated’ into the world? And how could their integration be understood differently? The article contributes to studies located at the intersection of work on Simondon and digital technology, thereby traversing Science and Technology Studies and Philosophy of Technology

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