Hans Blumenberg’s only known treatment of the topic of artificial intelligence comes in the form of a fragmentary meditation on the first chatbot, Joseph Weizenbaum’s ELIZA. Blumenberg compares this program to the philosophy of Edmund Husserl, arguing that both AI and phenomenology make a false assumption about intelligence or consciousness. This article argues that Blumenberg’s brush with digital systems is crucial in updating our own critique of AI as it proliferates in a new, dynamic form today. Drawing on and shifting the account of technology in the phenomenological tradition, Blumenberg includes machines in the constitution of meaning through rhetoric and points the way to a new wave of digital critique.
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