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Message posted on 13/01/2021

Save the Date: Workshop Reflecting on Power and AI: The Case of GPT-3

                Workshop of the Society for Phenomenology and Media

Reflecting on Power and AI: The Case of GPT-3

Date: February 18th 2020, 09:00  18:45 (GMT-7), 18:00  19:45 (CET)

Location: Zoom, link will be provided later.

Speakers: Dr. James Steinhoff (eScience Institute at the University of
Washington, USA), Dr. Olya Kudina (TU Delft, The Netherlands), Dr. Bas de Boer
(University of Twente, The Netherlands)

Registration: No registration needed.

You are all cordially invited to the workshop Reflecting on Power and AI: The
Case of GPT-3.


One of the latest hallmarks of current boom in Artificial Intelligence (AI) is
Generative Pre-Trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3), an unprecedentedly powerful
autoregressive language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like
texts ranging from historical fiction to functional code (Floridi & Chiriatti
2020). For the philosopher David Chalmers, GPT-3 is the most interesting and
important AI system ever produced, and is suggested to be the first AI system
displaying signs of general intelligence (Chalmers 2020). The possibilities
presented by GPT-3 give rise to an array of ethical and political concerns
that will be explored in this workshop: How to deal with potential biases
GPT-3 inherited from training data? Can and should we use artificial language
models to displace human workers? What role will language play in our lives
when we know that it is often algorithmically produced? Can GPT-3 be used to
eliminate existing inequalities, or is it likely to increase those? Last but
not least, what can the companies behind GPT-3 do to ensure a responsible
development and use of their product?

            The goal of this workshop is to explore the abovementioned issues
from the perspective of two different philosophical approaches that each have
a distinct outlook on the role of technologies in contemporary society but
have rarely been put in conversation: Marxist media theory and the
Technological Mediation Approach (TMA). In the first case, AI is approached as
first and foremost an automation technology and is thus situated in the
context of its commercial/industrial development and deployment. However, the
Marxist approach also entails an ontological dimension insofar as it insists
that capital (and its technologies) revolve around the central directive of
the increase of the real abstraction of value, which is immaterial while
configuring the concrete world. Two very different schools of Marxist theory
will be drawn upon: labour process theory and value-form Marxism. In the
second case,, AI can be approached as a mediating technology, through which
the primary concern becomes how it shapes the way human beings understand and
experience themselves and the world around them. In this workshop, we will use
the framework of TMA to analyze how technologies generally shape our
being-in-the-world, and point to how they do so very differently when
integrated into different practices. After having outlined these two different
perspectives, a plenary discussion will take place where the relevance of each
of these perspectives for analysing the societal impact of GPT-3 will be


An article will be distributed approximately one week before the date on which
the workshop will take place.


09:00  09:15 (GMT-7); 18:00  18:15 (CET): General introduction and an
introduction into GPT-3

09:15  09:45 (GMT-7); 18:15  18:45 (CET): Marxist media theory and
artificial intelligence (James Steinhoff)  Title: TBA

09:45  10:15 (GMT-7); 18:45  19:15 (CET): The Technological Mediation
Approach and GPT-3 (Olya Kudina & Bas de Boer)  Title: TBA

10:15  10:45 (GMT-7); 19:15  19:45 (CET): Discussion with audience about the
two approaches in relation to GPT-3


James Steinhoff is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the eScience Institute at the
University of Washington. His research interests include algorithmic media
theory, political economy, philosophy of technology and Marxism. He is author
of Automation and Autonomy: Labour, Capital and Machines in the Artificial
Intelligence Industry (2021, Palgrave) and co-author of Inhuman Power:
Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Capitalism (2019, Pluto).

Bas de Boer is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Twente, The
Netherlands. His research interests are in the philosophy of science
technology, (post-)phenomenology, and the philosophy of medicine. Recently,
his monograph How Scientific Instruments Speak: Postphenomenology and
Technological Mediations in Neuroscientific Practice (2021, Lexington) was

Olya Kudina is an Assistant Professor in the Ethics of Technology at Delft
University of Technology, the Netherlands. She explores the role of technology
in the sense-making processes and the technologically-induced value change.
Her research interests span across the intersection of (post)phenomenology,
design, bioethics and AI.


Chalmers, D. (2020). GPT-3 and General Intelligence. (Accessed,

Floridi, L., and M. Chiriatti. (2020). GPT-3: Its Nature, Scope, Limits, and
Consequences. Minds and Machines 30, 681-694.


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