What is Wrong with Machine Art? Autonomy, Spirituality, Consciousness, and Human Survival

Humanities Bulletin 3 (2):9-26 (2020)
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Abstract

There is a well-documented Pre-Reflective Hostility against Machine Art (PRHMA), exemplified by the sentiments of fear and anxiety. How can it be explained? The present paper attempts to find the answer to this question by surveying a considerable amount of research on machine art. It is found that explanations of PRHMA based on the (alleged) fact that machine art lacks an element that is (allegedly) found in human art (for example, autonomy) do not work. Such explanations cannot account for the sentiments of fear and anxiety present in PRHMA, because the art receiver could simply turn to human art for finding the element she is looking for. By contrast, an explanation based on the idea that machine art is “symbolically” a threat to human survival can be successful, since the art receiver’s turning from machine art to human art does not eliminate the (alleged) “symbolic” threat machine art poses for human survival. If there is a pre-reflective belief or feeling that machine art is such a threat, then it is perfectly understandable why humans exhibit a pre-reflective hostility against machine art.

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Ioannis Trisokkas
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

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