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The Eye of the Master: A Social History of Artificial Intelligence


title: The Eye of the Master: A Social History of Artificial Intelligence
author: Matteo Pasquinelli
year: 2023



C0 Introduction: AI as Division of Labour

The many histories of AI

The automation of cognition as pattern recognition

Structure of the book

C1 The Material Tools of Algorithmic Thinking

Recomposing a dismembered god

Archaeology of the algorithm

Tools for the construction of mathematical ideas

From counting tools to algorithms for calculation

The mechanisation of the algorithm


C2 Babbage and the Mechanisation of Mental Labour

Computation as division of labour

Reckoning with clocks

Principles of labour analysis

Analytical intelligence and machine semiotics

Ada Lovelace: When computers were women

The march of the material intellect

C3 The Machinery Question

How to question technology

The knowledge theory of labour

The demonisation of mental labour

The machine theory of science

The Machinery Question in the age of AI

C4 The Origins of Marx’s General Intellect

The March of Intellect

The discovery of Marx’s ‘Fragment on Machines’

Marx’s interpretation of Babbage

The invention of machinery through the division of labour

The alienation of knowledge by machinery

The devaluation of capital by knowledge accumulation

The rise of the collective worker

The machine is a social relation, not a thing

C5 The Abstraction of Labour

The bifurcation of energy and information

A note on the controversy of abstract labour

The labour of information


C6 The Self-Organisation of the Cybernetic Mind

A social history of the nervous system

Mechanising self-organisation

Military concerns about self-organising networks

From linear to self-organising information

Computational thinking and mechanistic analogies of the mind

Autonomy and automation

C7 The Automation of Pattern Recognition

The controversy about Gestalt perception

The invention of artificial neural networks

What the frog’s eye tells the frog’s brain

The language of the brain is not the language of mathematics

C8 Hayek and the Epistemology of Connectionism

Introducing the classifier

The decentralised and tacit rationality of the market

The faculty of classification; or, What is a pattern?

Neural networks as a model of the mind

The market as a model of neural networks

Towards a political epistemology of neural networks

C9 The Invention of the Perceptron

‘An organization of the external environment in a meaningful way’

The Mark I Perceptron

Brain models and experimental method

From symbolic logic to vector space

The new vectors of mind

Hacking the vector space

The social calculus of knowledge

Conclusion: The Automation of General Intelligence

From the assembly lines to pattern recognition

The automation of psychometrics, or general intelligence

The automation of automation

Undoing the master algorithm