Philosophy and Computing: An Introduction

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This accessible book explores the development, history and future of Information and Communication Technology using examples from philosophy. Luciano Floridi offers both an introduction to these technologies and a philosophical analysis of the problems they


The book examines a wide range of areas of technology, including the digital revolution, the Web and Internet, Artificial Intelligence and CD-ROMS. We see how the relationship between philosophy and computing provokes many crucial philosophical questions. Ultimately,

Philosophy and Computing outlines the what the future philosophy of information will need to undertake.

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Editorial Reviews

Hoping that what he calls the philosophy of information will someday be a recognized branch of the profession, Floridi (philosophy, Oxford U.) introduces two kinds of philosophy students to information and communications technology: those who need to acquire some literacy in order to use computers efficiently; and those who may be interested in developing a critical understanding of the digital age. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Thomas Manfred Forster
Flioridi casts his net widely and his breadth of knowledge makes this book exhilarating to read...excellent.
The Times Literary Supplement
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415180245
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 11/11/1999
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix
1 Divide et computa: philosophy and the digital environment 1
The digital revolution 1
The four areas of the digital revolution 4
From the analogue to the digital: the new physics of knowledge 9
The digitisation of the infosphere: three steps 14
The relations between philosophy and computing 15
2 The digital workshop 20
From the laboratory to the house 20
What is a computer? 21
Programming languages and software 47
Types of commercial computers 50
The personal computer 51
3 A revolution called Internet 56
The Internet as a basic technological change 56
What is the Internet? 61
What can the Internet be used for? 67
The future of the human encyclopaedia in the third age of IT: Frankenstein or Pygmalion? 79
4 The digital domain: infosphere, databases and hypertexts 88
The Paradox of the growth of knowledge: from the chicken and the egg to the needle in a haystack 88
"Everything must be transformed into an Encyclopaedia" (Novalis) 97
What is a database system? 99
Types of database systems 102
Data, information and knowledge: an erotetic approach 106
The hyperbolic space of the infosphere and the fifth element 108
The aesthetic and the ontological interpretation of databases 110
Ideometry 111
The commodification of information and the growth of the infosphere 113
Rich and poor in the information economy 114
ICT practical problems and computer ethics 116
Textual analysis: a constructionist approach 116
Hypertext as information retrieval system 117
Conclusion: a Renaissance mind? 130
5 Artificial intelligence: a light approach 132
Turing's Test 134
Four limits of Turing's Test 136
The application-areas of AI 142
The conditions of possibility of AI and the paradox of GOFAI 146
From GOFAI to LAI 148
The Cartesian nature of LAI 150
Deep Blue: a Cartesian computer 151
The success of LAI 154
The limits of LAI 215
Conclusion 218
Notes 224
Bibliography 227
Index 238
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