Instruments, agents, and artificial intelligence: novel epistemic categories of reliability

Synthese 200 (6):1-20 (2022)
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Deep learning (DL) has become increasingly central to science, primarily due to its capacity to quickly, efficiently, and accurately predict and classify phenomena of scientific interest. This paper seeks to understand the principles that underwrite scientists’ epistemic entitlement to rely on DL in the first place and argues that these principles are philosophically novel. The question of this paper is not whether scientists can be justified in trusting in the reliability of DL. While today’s artificial intelligence exhibits characteristics common to both scientific instruments and scientific experts, this paper argues that the familiar epistemic categories that justify belief in the reliability of instruments and experts are distinct, and that belief in the reliability of DL cannot be reduced to either. Understanding what can justify belief in AI reliability represents an occasion and opportunity for exciting, new philosophy of science.

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Eamon Duede
University of Chicago


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