Social Machinery and Intelligence

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Abstract
Social machines are systems formed by technical and human elements interacting in a structured manner. The use of digital platforms as mediators allows large numbers of human participants to join such mechanisms, creating systems where interconnected digital and human components operate as a single machine capable of highly sophisticated behaviour. Under certain conditions, such systems can be described as autonomous and goal-driven agents. Many examples of modern Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be regarded as instances of this class of mechanisms. We argue that this type of autonomous social machines has provided a new paradigm for the design of intelligent systems marking a new phase in the field of AI. The consequences of this observation range from methodological, philosophical to ethical. On the one side, it emphasises the role of Human-Computer Interaction in the design of intelligent systems, while on the other side it draws attention to both the risks for a human being and those for a society relying on mechanisms that are not necessarily controllable. The difficulty by companies in regulating the spread of misinformation, as well as those by authorities to protect task-workers managed by a software infrastructure, could be just some of the effects of this technological paradigm.
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Archival date: 2019-07-16
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