Interacting with Machines: Can an Artificially Intelligent Agent Be a Partner?

Philosophy and Technology 36 (3):1-32 (2023)
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In the past decade, the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have seen unprecedented developments that raise human-machine interactions (HMI) to the next level.Smart machines, i.e., machines endowed with artificially intelligent systems, have lost their character as mere instruments. This, at least, seems to be the case if one considers how humans experience their interactions with them. Smart machines are construed to serve complex functions involving increasing degrees of freedom, and they generate solutions not fully anticipated by humans. Consequently, their performances show a touch of action and even autonomy. HMI is therefore often described as a sort of “cooperation” rather than as a mere application of a tool. Some authors even go as far as subsuming cooperation with smart machines under the label ofpartnership, akin to cooperation between human agents sharing a common goal. In this paper, we explore how far the notion of shared agency and partnership can take us in our understanding of human interaction with smart machines. Discussing different topoi related to partnerships in general, we suggest that different kinds of “partnership” depending on the form of interaction between agents need to be kept apart. Building upon these discussions, we propose a tentative taxonomy of different kinds of HMI distinguishing coordination, collaboration, cooperation, and social partnership.



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Author Profiles

Sophie Loidolt
Technical University of Darmstadt
Philipp Schmidt
Julius-Maximilians-Universität, Würzburg

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