HaPoC-7 in Warsaw

The 7th International Conference on the History and Philosophy of Computing (HaPoC-7), organised by the Philosophy of Computing Group at the Faculty of Administration and Social Sciences at Warsaw University of Technology from 18 through 20 October 2023, has come to a successful end. On this occasion, two of the local organisers, Paula Quinon and myself, were elected members of the new HaPoC Council (2023-2025).

More information about the conference can be found at  https://hapoc2023.sciencesconf.org/. This includes the conference programme and abstracts.

For more information about HaPoC as an organisation, please visit https://hapoc.org/ (with links to past conferences).

Out now: »Turing’s Biological Philosophy« in Philosophies SI on »Turing the Philosopher«

Hajo Greif, Adam Kubiak, and Paweł Stacewicz (2023). Turing’s Biological Philosophy. Morphogenesis, Mechanisms and Organicism. Philosophies 8, 2023, Article 8. Special Issue “Turing the Philosopher: Established Debates and New Developments”, edited by Diane Proudfoot and Zhao Fan. Open Access. DOI: 10.3390/philosophies8010008

Abstract: Alan M. Turing’s last published work and some posthumously published manuscripts were dedicated to the development of his theory of morphogenesis. In The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis (1952), he provided an elaborated mathematical formulation of the theory of the origins of biological form that had been first proposed by Sir D’Arcy Wendworth Thompson in On Growth and Form (1917/1942). While being his mathematically most detailed and systematically most ambitious effort, Turing’s morphogenetical writings also form the thematically most self-contained and philosophically least explored part of his work. We dedicate our inquiry to the reasons and the implications of Turing’s choice of biological topic and viewpoint. Thompson’s pioneering work in biological ‘structuralism’ was organicist in outlook and explicitly critical of the Darwinian approaches that were popular with Turing’s cyberneticist contemporaries – and partly used by Turing himself in his proto-connectionist models of learning. In particular, we will probe for possible factors in Turing’s choice that go beyond availability and acquaintance with Thompsons’ approach, in particular his quest for mechanistic, non-teleological explanations of how organisation emerges in nature that nonetheless leave room for a non-mechanistic view of nature.

Acknowledgement: The research presented in this publication was supported by NCN (National Science Centre) OPUS 19 grant ref. 2020/37/B/HS1/01809.

Out now: »Models, Algorithms, and the Subjects of Transparency« in PT-AI 2021

Hajo Greif (2022). Models, algorithms, and the subjects of transparency. In Philosophy and Theory of Artificial Intelligence 2021, V. C. Müller, ed., Springer, Cham, 2022, pp. 27–37. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031-09153-7_3

Abstract: Concerns over epistemic opacity abound in contemporary debates on Artificial Intelligence (AI). However, it is not always clear to what extent these concerns refer to the same set of problems. We can observe, first, that the terms ‘transparency’ and ‘opacity’ are used either in reference to the computational elements of an AI model or to the models to which they pertain. Second, opacity and transparency might either be understood to refer to the properties of AI systems or to the epistemic situation of human agents with respect to these systems. While these diagnoses are independently discussed in the literature, juxtaposing them and exploring possible interrelations will help to get a view of the relevant distinctions between conceptions of opacity and their empirical bearing. In pursuit of this aim, two pertinent conditions affecting computer models in general and contemporary AI in particular are outlined and discussed: opacity as a problem of computational tractability and opacity as a problem of the universality of the computational method.

Acknowledgement: The research presented in this publication was supported by NCN (National Science Centre) OPUS 19 grant ref. 2020/37/B/HS1/01809.

NCN Grant »Turing, Ashby, and ›the Action of the Brain‹«

The Philosophy of Computing group is implementing NCN (National Science Centre) OPUS 19 grant ref. 2020/37/B/HS1/01809, which was awarded in November 2020. The project’s PI is Hajo Greif, the Co-investigator Paweł Stacewicz, the post-doc (hired October 2021) Adam Kubiak. The project is funded by NCN with PLN 767,130.– (approx. EUR 170,000.–) for three years (2021-2023), which involves a three-year postdoc position. The abstract can be downloaded from NCN here. More details on the project here.

Lecture Series »Thinking Machines: History, Present and Future of AI«

The international and interdisciplinary online lecture series »Thinking Machines: History, Present and Future of Artificial Intelligence« in Summer Term 2021 has been jointly hosted by the Research Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Deutsches Museum, the European New School of Digital Studies, and the Philosophy of Computing group, ICFO. Speakers include: Pamela McCorduck, Stephanie Dick, Shannon Vallor, Harry Collins, Wolfgang Bibel, Vincent Müller, Virginia Dignum, Kristian Kersting.

More details and full programme on the official website of the series.