Alternative computing

Authored by: Leah A. Lievrouw

The Routledge Companion To Media And Activism

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138202030
eBook ISBN: 9781315475059
Adobe ISBN:


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Computation is an integral component of contemporary media logic: mediated communication has become as much a matter of tinkering, reconfiguring, playing, hacking, pranking, coding and jailbreaking as it is of production, representation, signifying, reception or consumption. Computers have been recognized as ‘communication devices’ at least since the 1960s (Licklider & Taylor 1968). However, the tendency to attribute intelligence and responsiveness to ­computing machines has been evident ever since Alan Turing (1950) proposed his ‘Turing test’, and Joseph Weizenbaum (Weizenbaum 1966) and his colleagues, with some dismay, observed the Turing phenomenon at work in their experimental natural-language system ELIZA, designed to mimic the responses of a non-directive therapist. Skeptics have challenged the inflated claims of artificial intelligence (AI) since its earliest days (e.g. Dreyfus 1992, Agre 1997), warning of the ethical hazards of attributing human capacities, including communicative competence, to machines (Weizenbaum 1976).

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