The Empathy Diaries

30 Oct 2021 02:15 - 30 Jul 2023 03:10
Open in Logseq
    • One of my great allies at MIT, from my earliest days, was Professor Joseph Weizenbaum, an early critic of instrumental reasoning and where it led, an early critic of where Artificial Intelligence unexamined in its premises could lead us. I write about our relationship in my memoir, The Empathy Diaries. He felt betrayed when I married an AI scientist. He thought it would influence my thinking, assuming that my interest in studying children and the Logo language, was not born of intellectual curiosity but due to my love for Seymour Papert. He was wrong. I was both in love with Seymour and in love with the question: “How does programming change the way we think?”
    • As soon as children began to consider how the computer worked, they were led to consider whether or not it was alive. Since the computer’s programming made it seem “sort of alive,” they wondered if people were programmed as well? How exactly, asked children, were people different from machines? The question of free will, I thought, was what sex had been to the Victorians: threat and obsession, taboo and fascination. I thought these conversations were positive. I couldn’t agree with Weizenbaum, who wanted me to say, prior to investigation, that putting children and computers together was always a bad thing. I invited Weizenbaum to work with me; we could investigate children’s responses to computers together. But where I saw empirical questions, he saw a philosophical absolute. On this, we agreed to disagree. Yet, at MIT, we were solid allies in a larger critique of the engineering culture. (p???)