A dialog in honor of HAL

“Two writers facing one Turing test: A dialog in honor of HAL,” Common Knowledge, 1998, Vol. 7, pp.177-191. Richard Powers and Bruno Latour.

I’d like you to imagine a simple thought experiment. Two people who have never met each other, who do not speak the same language, who do not work in the same discipline, sit at opposite ends of an elaborate electronic hook-up, half way around the world from each other, one in a remote mid-western backwater, the other in the City of Light. At regular intervals over the course of several months, they send one another electronic messages. The one is a novelist, and thus has some vested interest in manufacturing artificial, intelligent creatures that create the illusion of being fully independent and alive….

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