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Constructions of Gender in the History of Artificial Intelligence

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129948D
Original Publication Date: 1996-Sep-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 13 page(s) / 53K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

ALISON ADAM: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

In this paper I argue for a model of an intelligent knower represented in symbolic artificial intelligence (AI) systems throughout its history, based on a historical view of the ideal Cartesian Man of Reason, as described by the philosopher Genevieve Lloyd [1], [2]. In particular such a view elevates mental knowledge over corporeal knowledge; the former is often associated with a masculine form of reasoning while the latter is largely associated with the feminine. Early AI systems such as Logic Theorist owe much to this model, which remains largely unchanged in later systems such as Cyc, despite several other important changes of focus in AI. Although not associated with the gendered model of knowledge discussed here, there have been recent attempts to include an embodied model of knowledge in AI systems, notably in the domain of situated robotics. Despite addressing some of the problems of the Cartesian knower, namely, the role of the body in the making of knowledge, this form of AI does not overcome the problem of situating the subject, which feminist theory suggests is an integral part of our models of knowers.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1996 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Constructions of Gender in the History of Artificial Intelligence

ALISON ADAM

Key developments in the history of artificial intelligence are described in terms of a model of gender (Man of Reason), drawn from the work of philosopher Genevieve Lloyd, and informed by research in gender and technology and feminist epistemology. Significantly, the model demonstrates the elevation of mental knowledge over corporeal knowledge. Recent attempts to address the problem of embodiment in situated robotics go some way toward overcoming this problem but have yet to address the question of situatedness, which feminist and other social science research suggests should be an integral part of our models of knowers.

Introduction

In this paper I argue for a model of an intelligent knower represented in symbolic artificial intelligence (AI) systems throughout its history, based on a historical view of the ideal Cartesian Man of Reason, as described by the philosopher Genevieve Lloyd [1], [2]. In particular such a view elevates mental knowledge over corporeal knowledge; the former is often associated with a masculine form of reasoning while the latter is largely associated with the feminine. Early AI systems such as Logic Theorist owe much to this model, which remains largely unchanged in later systems such as Cyc, despite several other important changes of focus in AI. Although not associated with the gendered model of knowledge discussed here, there have been recent attempts to include an embodied model of knowledge in AI systems, notably in the domain of situated robotics. Despite addressing some of the problems of the Cartesian knower, namely, the role of the body in the making of knowledge, this form of AI does not overcome the problem of situating the subject, which feminist theory suggests is an integral part of our models of knowers.

The paper continues with a discussion of the development of feminist theory, gender, and technology. Lloyd's Man of Reason model is related to other writing on feminist epistemology. Two early systems, Logic Theorist and General Problem Solver, are characterized in terms of the model. The paper goes on to look at Cyc, an example of a later expert system in the history of AI. The question of bodily immanence and situatedness is described. Embodiment in situated robotics is outlined, and the paper concludes that such robots are not situated in the sense implied by feminist theory.

Does Knowledge Have a Gender?

In an issue of this journal that focuses on the history of women in computing, it may be seen to be somewhat strange to include an article purporting to discuss the history of artificial intelligence yet that contains possibly two references to women working in the field of AI. The reason for this is that my aim here is not t...