[Air-L] What can/should computers do?

MacDougall, Robert robert_macdougall at post03.curry.edu
Tue Jan 22 09:48:12 PST 2013

Eric, All..

One more seminal piece is Norbert Weiner's Cybernetics.  Also can be quite theoretical in sections, but invaluable to your inquiry I'd think.  He rewrote swaths of it, adding plenty of concrete examples and such, in  The Human Use of Human Beings.

As for non-expert stuff, I haven't too many leads.  But Jaron Lanier's You are not a Gadget likely gets at some of what you are looking for there.  I heard him speak and chatted briefly with him last summer and know that he has some very important things to say regarding your general question.

Good luck,


Robert MacDougall
Professor, Communication/Media Studies
Coordinator, Video Game Concentration
Coordinator, Faculty Center
for Professional Development 
and Curriculum Innovation
Curry College
65a Atherton St.
Milton, MA  02186-2395  USA
Office Ph: 617-333-2265
Skype: rhyperborean

-----Original Message-----
From: air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org [mailto:air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org] On Behalf Of Eric P. S. Baumer
Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 12:05 PM
To: air-l at listserv.aoir.org
Subject: [Air-L] What can/should computers do?

Hello air-l-er's,

I'm looking for literature reporting on empirical investigations of perceptions about both what computers can do and what computers should do.

I'm familiar with a number of philosophical pieces considering potential abilities and/or limits of computers (Turing, Minsky, Dreyfus, Weizenbaum, etc.). However, most of those are philosophical or abstract arguments made by philosophers of or researchers in artificial intelligence. I've not been able to find any work that examines lay or non-expert beliefs about either what computational systems are (not) capable of or what are (in)appropriate tasks for computational systems to perform.

To sum up, here's what I'm looking for:
- perceptions of computers' (suit)abilities
- empirical research (not philosophical arguments)
- emphasis on lay/non-expert perceptions (not researchers in AI)
- bonus points if related to natural language processing
- bonus points if related to political coverage, opinions, and/or bias

Thanks in advance,

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