This paper investigates the claims of computational models and practices drawn from the field of artificial intelligence and more particularly machine learning. I do this to explore the extent to which machine learning raises important questions for our notions of being human, but also, relatedly the concept of civil society and democracy as distilled through notions of hermeneutic practice. That is, that in the 21st century we are seeing the creation of specific formations which threaten historical notions of humanities research and thinking. They represent new modes of knowing and thinking driven by these new forms of computation such as machine learning and Big Data, and which will have implications for the capacity to develop and use social and human faculties. Through the lens of critical theory I explore the way in which these new techniques raise questions for thinking about the human, critical reason and the humanities.
David M. Berry is Professor of Digital Humanities at the Sussex Humanities Lab, University of Sussex, UK. He works on critical reason, critical philosophies of computation and digital humanities, and critical theory. His latest book is Digital Humanities: Knowledge and Critique in a Digital Age (2017, with Anders Fagerjord).