15 Must-Reads Connecting AI and the Humanities

Table of Contents

This article reviews the historical relationship between Artificial Intelligence (AI) studies and the humanities. It also functions as a book guide.

In the now-flourishing discourse on current artificial intelligence, it may appear that AI technology bears no relation to the humanities. Historically, AI has been a persistent dream of various philosophers who have pursued inquiries on the true nature of human beings. This is because to create intelligence artificially, we need to understand the human mind from the inside. In addition, the nature of AI is now widely examined as a question of the post-/anti-/alter-human.

The two authors first analyze the historical background of AI. The concept of AI originated in overcoming challenges to the mechanical imitation of human thought processes. After preliminary models failed, a new understanding emerged in the 1950s. This was termed the cognitive revolution and provided a new paradigm for AI studies.

Until the 1990s, theoretical and philosophical approaches to AI predominated because the calculation power of computers remained weak. The “frame problem” proposed by McCarthy and Hayes is a famous example. Nevertheless, the current emergence of new approaches prioritizes the implementation and practical use of AI, seemingly allowing no space for philosophical examinations on the nature of intelligence or human consciousness.

The two authors conclude that the humanities are characterized by three responses to the emergence of AI today: (1) resistance to or criticism of AI, (2) analysis of its practical use, and (3) attempts to create a new field of humanities.