Towards a sociological conception of artificial intelligence

Jakub Mlynář, Hamed S Alavi, Himanshu Verma, Lorenzo Cantoni

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Social sciences have been always formed and influenced by the development of society, adjusting the conceptual, methodological, and theoretical frameworks to emerging social phenomena. In recent years, with the leap in the advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the proliferation of its everyday applications, “non-human intelligent actors” are increasingly becoming part of the society. This is manifested in the evolving realms of smart home systems, autonomous vehicles, chatbots, intelligent public displays, etc. In this paper, we present a prospective research project that takes one of the pioneering steps towards establishing a “distinctively sociological” conception
of AI. Its first objective is to extract the existing conceptions of AI as perceived by its technological developers and (possibly differently) by its users. In the
second part, capitalizing on a set of interviews with experts from social science domains, we will explore the new imaginable conceptions of AI that do not originate from its technological possibilities but rather from societal necessities. The current formal ways of defining AI are grounded in the technological possibilities, namely machine learning methods and neural network models. Butwhat exactly is AI as a social phenomenon, which may act on its own, can be blamed responsible for ethically problematic behavior, or even endanger people’s employment? We argue that such conceptual investigation is a crucial step for further empirical studies of phenomena related to AI’s position in
current societies, but also will open up ways for critiques of new technological advancements with social consequences in mind from the outset.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Artificial General Intelligence
EditorsM. Iklé
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Sciences


  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Sociology
  • Social Sciences


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