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Open Access Publications from the University of California

System Intentionality and the Artificial Intelligence Hermeneutic Network: the Role of Intentional Vocabulary


Computer systems that are designed explicitly to exhibit intentionality embody a phenomenon of increasing cultural importance. In typical discourse about arti�cial intelligence (AI) systems, system intentionality is often seen as a technical and ontological property of a program, resulting from its underlying algorithms and knowledge engineering. Infuenced by hermeneutic approaches to text analysis and drawing from the areas of actor-network theory and philosophy of mind, this paper proposes a humanistic framework for analysis of AI systems stating that system intentionality is narrated and interpreted by its human creators and users. We pay special attention to the discursive strategies embedded in source code and technical literature of software systems that include such narration and interpretation. Finally, we demonstrate the utility of our theory with a close reading of an AI system, Hofstadter and Mitchell's Copycat.

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