Washington Law Review


Artificial Meaning

March 01, 2014 | 89 Wash. L. Rev. 69

As artificial intelligences (AI) become more powerful and pervasive, communication by, with, and among AIs has become a common feature of everyday life. Early in the history of AI, there was ELIZA—a simple program that utilized simple pattern-matching algorithms to simulate a psychotherapist interacting with the user of the program.1 Human communication with AIs has been depicted in film and fiction, from the iconic confrontation of humans with HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey2 to the very human Theodore who falls in love with an artificially intelligent operating system named Samantha in Her.3 But complex communication with AIs is part of everyday life in modern technological societies, including Apple’s Siri, automated telephonic service systems for airlines, online ordering systems for merchants like Amazon.com, and characters in video games who converse with human players. All of these contexts involve artificial meaning, which we can contrast with communications by natural persons (human beings)—which we can call natural meaning.

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