Updated: Feb 8, 2019
What could be AI/ or Machine Anthropology? The short answer: the sum of AI conversations about us, humans.
As Anthropologist I am interested in both how “technology” is created, and what it creates in its turn. One of the possible creation of AI will be its own discourse on humanity – or whatever humanity will become. I call this “AI/ Machine Anthropology”.
While it may resonate with Agamben’s “anthropological machine” – through which humans constantly recreate themselves in reference to, and against, the animal – the Machine/ AI Anthropology refers to something slightly different: it is pointing to a potentiality of the future, when humanity itself will be the object of analysis for the informed gaze of Artificial Intelligence. Thus, the AI Anthropology speculates on how we may look like through the sensorial and analytic apparatus of a possible global technological network.
It may be argued that the process of creation of AI/ Machine Anthropology already started: the easiest example is the digital world, in which personal digital prints create profiles as algorithmic interpretations of individual’s behaviour. A future leap towards a fully fledged Machine Anthropology will happen when aggregated data will be subject of A.I. analysis in order to translate and interpret human collective behaviour, producing “cultural readings” of that behaviour. The “Machinity” may start to produce an autonomous discourse about humanity, while re-producing itself in constant oppositional reference to Humanity.
The AI/Machine Anthropology can be thus considered the ideological prosthetic of the creation of a self-conscious, self-reliant A.I. The networked technological being (let us call it this for lack of a better descriptive) will create its own interpretations of what humanity is, in its various manifestations, creating thus a more or less unifying identity for itself, and entering into the competition of “owning” humanity through digitally created discourse about humanity.