Τρίτη, 7 Μαΐου 2019

Minds and Machines

Reply to "Prayer-Bots and Religious Worship on Twitter: A Call for a Wider Research Agenda Islamic"


Delegating Religious Practices to Autonomous Machines, A Reply to "Prayer-Bots and Religious Worship on Twitter: A Call for a Wider Research Agenda"


Prayer-Bots and Religious Worship on Twitter: A Call for a Wider Research Agenda

Abstract

The automation of online social life is an urgent issue for researchers and the public alike. However, one of the most significant uses of such technologies seems to have gone largely unnoticed by the research community: religion. Focusing on Islamic Prayer Apps, which automatically post prayers from its users' accounts, we show that even one such service is already responsible for millions of tweets daily, constituting a significant portion of Arabic-language Twitter traffic. We argue that the fact that a phenomenon of these proportions has gone unnoticed by researchers reveals an opportunity to broaden the scope of the current research agenda on online automation.



Can Machines Read our Minds?

Abstract

We explore the question of whether machines can infer information about our psychological traits or mental states by observing samples of our behaviour gathered from our online activities. Ongoing technical advances across a range of research communities indicate that machines are now able to access this information, but the extent to which this is possible and the consequent implications have not been well explored. We begin by highlighting the urgency of asking this question, and then explore its conceptual underpinnings, in order to help emphasise the relevant issues. To answer the question, we review a large number of empirical studies, in which samples of behaviour are used to automatically infer a range of psychological constructs, including affect and emotions, aptitudes and skills, attitudes and orientations (e.g. values and sexual orientation), personality, and disorders and conditions (e.g. depression and addiction). We also present a general perspective that can bring these disparate studies together and allow us to think clearly about their philosophical and ethical implications, such as issues related to consent, privacy, and the use of persuasive technologies for controlling human behaviour.



Peeking Inside the Black Box: A New Kind of Scientific Visualization

Abstract

Computational systems biologists create and manipulate computational models of biological systems, but they do not always have straightforward epistemic access to the content and behavioural profile of such models because of their length, coding idiosyncrasies, and formal complexity. This creates difficulties both for modellers in their research groups and for their bioscience collaborators who rely on these models. In this paper we introduce a new kind of visualization (observed in a qualitative study of a systems biology laboratory) that was developed to address just this sort of epistemic opacity. The visualization is unusual in that it depicts the dynamics and structure of a computer model instead of that model's target system, and because it is generated algorithmically. Using considerations from epistemology and aesthetics, we explore how this new kind of visualization increases scientific understanding of the content and function of computer models in systems biology to reduce epistemic opacity.



Computer Modeling and Simulation: Increasing Reliability by Disentangling Verification and Validation

Abstract

Verification and validation (V&V) of computer codes and models used in simulations are two aspects of the scientific practice of high importance that recently have been discussed widely by philosophers of science. While verification is predominantly associated with the correctness of the way a model is represented by a computer code or algorithm, validation more often refers to the model's relation to the real world and its intended use. Because complex simulations are generally opaque to a practitioner, the Duhem problem can arise with verification and validation due to their entanglement; such an entanglement makes it impossible to distinguish whether a coding error or the model's general inadequacy to its target should be blamed in the case of a failure. I argue that a clear distinction between computer modeling and simulation has to be made to disentangle verification and validation. Drawing on that distinction, I suggest to associate modeling with verification and simulation, which shares common epistemic strategies with experimentation, with validation. To explain the reasons for their entanglement in practice, I propose a Weberian ideal–typical model of modeling and simulation as roles in practice. I examine an approach to mitigate the Duhem problem for verification and validation that is generally applicable in practice and is based on differences in epistemic strategies and scopes. Based on this analysis, I suggest two strategies to increase the reliability of simulation results, namely, avoiding alterations of verified models at the validation stage as well as performing simulations of the same target system using two or more different models. In response to Winsberg's claim that verification and validation are entangled I argue that deploying the methodology proposed in this work it is possible to mitigate inseparability of V&V in many if not all domains where modeling and simulation are used.



Epistemic Entitlements and the Practice of Computer Simulation

Abstract

What does it mean to trust the results of a computer simulation? This paper argues that trust in simulations should be grounded in empirical evidence, good engineering practice, and established theoretical principles. Without these constraints, computer simulation risks becoming little more than speculation. We argue against two prominent positions in the epistemology of computer simulation and defend a conservative view that emphasizes the difference between the norms governing scientific investigation and those governing ordinary epistemic practices.



Reproducibility and the Concept of Numerical Solution

Abstract

In this paper, we show that reproducibility is a severe problem that concerns simulation models. The reproducibility problem challenges the concept of numerical solution and hence the conception of what a simulation actually does. We provide an expanded picture of simulation that makes visible those steps of simulation modeling that are numerically relevant, but often escape notice in accounts of simulation. Examining these steps and analyzing a number of pertinent examples, we argue that numerical solutions are importantly different from usual mathematical solutions. They are do not merely approximate the latter, but introduce new problems, including issues of artificiality, stability, and well-posedness. Consequently, simulation modelling can attain reproducibility only to a certain degree because it is working with numerical solutions (in a sense we specify in the paper).



Robotic Simulations, Simulations of Robots

Abstract

Simulation studies have been carried out in robotics for a variety of epistemic and practical purposes. Here it is argued that two broad classes of simulation studies can be identified in robotics research. The first one is exemplified by the use of robotic systems to acquire knowledge on living systems in so-called biorobotics, while the second class of studies is more distinctively connected to cases in which artificial systems are used to acquire knowledge about the behaviour of autonomous mobile robots. The two classes pertain to sub-areas of robotics which are apparently quite distant from one another in terms of goals, methodologies, technologies, and theoretical backgrounds. Still both are concerned with building, running, and experimenting on simulations of other systems. This paper aims to reveal and discuss some methodological commonalities between the two classes of studies. Philosophical literature on simulation methodologies has been traditionally focused on studies carried out in research fields other than robotics: this article may therefore contribute to shedding light on how the concept of simulation is used in robotics, and on the role simulation methodologies play in this research field.



The Civic Role of Online Service Providers

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