Two Philosophers of the Information Age

A presentation given as part of a symposium marking the 40th anniversary of the founding of the journal Metaphilosoph.

The Future of Philosophy: Metaphilosophical Directions for the 21st Century – symposium page

Two Philosophers of the Information Age – direct link to the presentation

Terrell Ward Bynum (Southern Connecticut State): Previous scientific and technological revolutions changed our understanding of human nature, the nature of society, and the nature of the universe. The impact upon philosophy was profound. It is not surprising, therefore, that today’s Information Revolution promises to have major philosophical implications. Physicists have recently argued, for example, that the universe is made of information and that human beings are exquisitely complex information objects. In addition new kinds of decision-making agents – such as, robots, softbots, and artificial companions – now can be found in homes, schools, hospitals, workplaces, entertainment centers. Instead of being utterly different from human beings, many computerized devices can be viewed as entities very much like ourselves – fellow information objects journeying together through an informational world. This radically different understanding of human nature and our role in the universe offers exciting, powerful – and to some people, threatening – answers to some of the deepest questions of philosophy and psychology: Who am I? What am I? What does it mean to be? What is my place in the universe? The result is sure to be a worldwide and decades-long philosophical conversation. This presentation is a small part of that conversation – one that briefly discusses just two of the growing number of “philosophers of the Information Age”: Norbert Wiener and Luciano Floridi. This presentation will briefly compare their views on human nature, artificial agents, the nature of society, and the nature of the universe.