The End of Vagueness: Technological Epistemicism, Surveillance Capitalism, and Explainable Artificial Intelligence

Minds and Machines 32 (3):585-611 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Artificial Intelligence (AI) pervades humanity in 2022, and it is notoriously difficult to understand how certain aspects of it work. There is a movement—_Explainable_ Artificial Intelligence (XAI)—to develop new methods for explaining the behaviours of AI systems. We aim to highlight one important philosophical significance of XAI—it has a role to play in the elimination of vagueness. To show this, consider that the use of AI in what has been labeled _surveillance capitalism_ has resulted in humans quickly gaining the capability to identify and classify most of the occasions in which languages are used. We show that the knowability of this information is incompatible with what a certain theory of vagueness—_epistemicism_—says about vagueness. We argue that one way the epistemicist could respond to this threat is to claim that this process brought about the end of vagueness. However, we suggest an alternative interpretation, namely that epistemicism is false, but there is a weaker doctrine we dub _technological epistemicism_, which is the view that vagueness is due to ignorance of linguistic usage, but the ignorance can be overcome. The idea is that knowing more of the relevant data and how to process it enables us to know the semantic values of our words and sentences with higher confidence and precision. Finally, we argue that humans are probably not going to believe what future AI algorithms tell us about the sharp boundaries of our vague words unless the AI involved can be explained in terms understandable by humans. That is, if people are going to accept that AI can tell them about the sharp boundaries of the meanings of their words, then it is going to have to be XAI.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 89,621

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The Problem with Truthmaker-Gap Epistemicism.Mark Jago - 2012 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 1 (4):320-329.
A vague demonstration.Roy A. Sorensen - 2000 - Linguistics and Philosophy 23 (5):507-522.
Locating Vagueness.Trenton Merricks - 2017 - Journal of Philosophy 114 (5):221-250.
Either epistemicism or logic.Piotr Łukowski - 2008 - Logic and Logical Philosophy 17 (4):329-351.
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. [REVIEW]Sybren Heyndels - 2020 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 82 (4):789-791.

Analytics

Added to PP
2022-09-12

Downloads
33 (#413,309)

6 months
10 (#133,273)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Alison Duncan Kerr
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Kevin Scharp
University of Twente

References found in this work

Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy 76 (297):460-464.
The logical form of action sentences.Donald Davidson - 1967 - In Nicholas Rescher (ed.), The Logic of Decision and Action. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 81--95.
Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1995 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46 (4):589-601.
Which Concepts Should We Use?: Metalinguistic Negotiations and The Methodology of Philosophy.David Plunkett - 2015 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (7-8):828-874.

View all 29 references / Add more references