Auli Viidalepp

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the expected ai as a sociocultural construct and its impact on the discourse on technology

The thesis introduces and criticizes the discourse on technology, with a specific reference to the concept of AI. The discourse on AI is particularly saturated with reified metaphors which drive connotations and delimit understandings of technology in society. To better analyse the discourse on AI, the thesis proposes the concept of “Expected AI”, a composite signifier filled with historical and sociocultural connotations, and numerous referent objects. Relying on cultural semiotics, science and technology studies, and a diverse selection of heuristic concepts, the thesis delves beneath the surface of AI discourse and demonstrates the hidden political, social, cultural, and ecological dangers of AI. The entanglement of the discourse(s) with (science) fiction, folklore, myth, and religion impacts how AI is perceived and received, as well as the expectations to AI-enabled technologies now and in the future. The thesis also proposes a more ethical and comprehensive ontological model for AI systems. The model describes AI systems as complex figurations, considering their socio-material organisation, global economic-material becoming, and impact on the environment, social institutions, and the semiosphere. The dissertation argues that AI should be understood not just as an object or sociotechnical system, but as its entire product chain encompassing people and cultures, as well as the used resources and impact (both material-ecological and semiotic) on a planetary scale.

Read the thesis:

in University of Tartu dspace »

in Researchgate »

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