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Author: Jan G. Michel


The focus of this article is a question that has been neglected in debates about digitalization: Could machines replace human scientists? To provide an intelligible answer to it, we need to answer a further question: What is it that makes (or constitutes) a scientist? I offer an answer to this question by proposing a new demarcation criterion for science which I call “the discoverability criterion”. I proceed as follows: (1) I explain why the target question of this article is important, and (2) show that it leads to a variant of the demarcation problem of science. (3) By arguing that it is probably an essential feature of science that we can make scientific discoveries, I suggest a novel way of dealing with this problem by proposing a new demarcation criterion. Before introducing it, (4) I analyze an exemplary case of a real scientific discovery, and (5) argue that scientific discovery processes have a general underlying structure. (6) I introduce my discoverability criterion for science and present my master argument that helps us understand which criteria have to be fulfilled in order to decide whether machines can replace human scientists or not. (7) I conclude by answering the article’s target question and bringing forward a take-home message.

In: Artificial Intelligence
In: Making Scientific Discoveries
In: Making Scientific Discoveries
Interdisciplinary Reflections
Scientific progress depends crucially on scientific discoveries. Yet the topic of scientific discoveries has not been central to debate in the philosophy of science. This book aims to remedy this shortcoming. Based on a broad reading of the term “science” (similar to the German term “Wissenschaft ”), the book convenes experts from different disciplines who reflect upon several intertwined questions connected to the topic of making scientific discoveries.
Among these questions are the following: What are the preconditions for making scientific discoveries? What is it that we (have to) do when we make discoveries in science? What are the objects of scientific discoveries, how do we name them, and how do scientific names function? Do dis-coveries in, say, physics and biology, share an underlying structure, or do they differ from each other in crucial ways? Are other fields such as theology and environmental studies loci of scientific discovery? What is the purpose of making scientific discoveries? Explaining nature or reality? Increasing scientific knowledge? Finding new truths? If so, how can we account for instructive blunders and serendipities in science?
In the light of the above, the following is an encompassing question of the book: What does it mean to make a discovery in science, and how can scientific discoveries be distinguished from non-scientific discoveries?
Reflections in Philosophy, Theology, and the Social Sciences
This book discusses major issues of the current AI debate from the perspectives of philosophy, theology, and the social sciences: Can AI have a consciousness? Is superintelligence possible and probable? How does AI change individual and social life? Can there be artificial persons? What influence does AI have on religious worldviews? In Western societies, we are surrounded by artificially intelligent systems. Most of these systems are embedded in online platforms. But embodiments of AI, be it by voice or by actual physical embodiment, give artificially intelligent systems another dimension in terms of their impact on how we perceive these systems, how they shape our communication with them and with fellow humans and how we live and work together. AI in any form gives a new twist to the big questions that humanity has concerned herself with for centuries: What is consciousness? How should we treat each other - what is right and what is wrong? How do our creations change the world we are living in? Which challenges do we have to face in the future?