Computer Power and Human Reason

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Computer Power and Human Reason by Joseph Weizenbaum

Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgment To Calculation (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1976; ISBN 0-7167-0463-3) by Joseph Weizenbaum displays his ambivalence towards computer technology and lays out the case that while artificial intelligence may be possible, we should never allow computers to make important decisions because computers will always lack human qualities such as compassion and wisdom. Weizenbaum makes the crucial distinction between deciding and choosing. Deciding is a computational activity, something that can ultimately be programmed. It is the capacity to choose that ultimately makes us human. Choice, however, is the product of judgment, not calculation. Comprehensive human judgment is able to include non-mathematical factors such as emotions. Judgment can compare apples and oranges, and can do so without quantifying each fruit type and then reductively quantifying each to factors necessary for mathematical comparison.

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