An Artificial History of Natural Intelligence: Thinking with Machines from Descartes to the Digital Age (Hardcover)

An Artificial History of Natural Intelligence: Thinking with Machines from Descartes to the Digital Age By David W. Bates Cover Image

An Artificial History of Natural Intelligence: Thinking with Machines from Descartes to the Digital Age (Hardcover)

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A new history of human intelligence that argues that humans know themselves by knowing their machines.

We imagine that we are both in control of and controlled by our bodies—autonomous and yet automatic. This entanglement, according to David W. Bates, emerged in the seventeenth century when humans first built and compared themselves with machines. Reading varied thinkers from Descartes to Kant to Turing, Bates reveals how time and time again technological developments offered new ways to imagine how the body’s automaticity worked alongside the mind’s autonomy. Tracing these evolving lines of thought, An Artificial History of Natural Intelligence offers a new theorization of the human as a being that is dependent on technology and produces itself as an artificial automaton without a natural, outside origin.
David W. Bates is professor of rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of three books, including Enlightenment Aberrations: Error and Revolution in France.
Product Details ISBN: 9780226832104
ISBN-10: 0226832104
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2024
Pages: 408
Language: English
“Historically astute and philosophically brilliant, this is the most ambitious, original, and important book on human-machine relations in thirty years. Bates surveys the entirety of the modern tradition since Descartes to demonstrate that there has never been a ‘natural intelligence’ to contrast with artificial intelligence and offers one convincing interpretation after another to force the reader to rework basic assumptions about technology, philosophy, and humanity. This is a tremendous achievement—intellectual history at its best.”
— Stefanos Geroulanos, New York University

“As new forms of artificial intelligence throw us into turmoil, Bates invites us to think through the ever-evolving relations between human and humanish. Deftly weaving together cognitive science, intellectual history, and philosophy, he shows that we have for centuries measured ourselves against our self-simulating machines and reasserted our existence in the gap between the natural world (which constitutes us) and the artificial (which we constitute). It is the perfect moment for this book.”
— Jessica Riskin, Stanford University