The philosophical project NEURAL NETS – The Impact of Neuroscientific Images on Concepts of Intelligence in Technology and Cultural Narratives specifies and discusses a paradigmatic shift in human self-understanding due to neuroscientific methods and results. As peeks into the inner workings of our brains, neuroscientific images are fascinating far beyond their use in science and medicine. They seem to suggest a reductive concept of intelligence, that focuses merely on the brain, rather than its embodiment and embeddedness in a socio-cultural ecology. Understanding imaging methods and their impact on new technologies will clarify how modern concepts of human and artificial intelligence are construed.
Outside of neurosciences, these images inevitably receive new functions and meanings. Implicitly or explicitly, they constitute a specific concept of human and artificial intelligence, originally unintended by neurosciences and influential on how we construe technology and organize social life. Rather than criticizing neuroscientific concepts of intelligence, the project pursues to reveal the impact of neuroscientific methods of imaging on extra-neuroscientific discussions and concepts of intelligence.
To a great amount, philosophical discussions criticize the bearing new technologies have on what is considered as intelligence. However, the influence of neuroscientific images on both new technologies and current concepts of intelligence has received little attention. The project will specify biases, re-interpretations, and re-contextualisation of the neuroscientific images once appearing in other contexts, such as digital art and cinema. It will show how these contingent concepts of intelligence shape visions of the future and have a strong impact on new technology design such as AI and autonomous systems, and eventually on the norms and values governing highly technologized societies.