Apriori Knowledge in an Era of Computational Opacity: The Role of AI in Mathematical Discovery

Philosophy of Science (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Computation is central to contemporary mathematics. Many accept that we can acquire genuine mathematical knowledge of the Four Color Theorem from Appel and Haken's program insofar as it is simply a repetitive application of human forms of mathematical reasoning. Modern LLMs / DNNs are, by contrast, opaque to us in significant ways, and this creates obstacles in obtaining mathematical knowledge from them. We argue, however, that if a proof-checker automating human forms of proof-checking is attached to such machines, then we can obtain apriori mathematical knowledge from them, even though the original machines are entirely opaque to us and the proofs they output are not human-surveyable.

Author Profiles

Eamon Duede
Harvard University
Kevin Davey
University of Chicago

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