Towards a Sociological Conception of Artificial Intelligence

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), Springer (2018)


artificial intelligence, Social sciences, Sociology


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. Buy what 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.