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The Art of Interpretation in the Age of Computation$
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Paul Kockelman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190636531

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190636531.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 December 2021

Algorithms, Agents, and Ontologies

Algorithms, Agents, and Ontologies

(p.171) 7 Algorithms, Agents, and Ontologies
The Art of Interpretation in the Age of Computation

Paul Kockelman

Oxford University Press

This chapter details the inner workings of spam filters, algorithmic devices that separate desirable messages from undesirable messages. It argues that such filters are a particularly important kind of sieve insofar as they readily exhibit key features of sieving devices in general, and algorithmic sieving in particular. More broadly, it describes the relation between ontology (assumptions that drive interpretations) and inference (interpretations that alter assumptions) as it plays out in the classification and transformation of identities, types, or kinds. Focusing on the unstable processes whereby identifying algorithms, identified types, and evasive transformations are dynamically coupled over time, it also theorizes various kinds of ontological inertia and highlights various kinds of algorithmic ineffability. Finally, it shows how similar issues underlie a much wider range of processes, such as the Turing Test, Bayesian reasoning, and machine learning more generally.

Keywords:   spam filters, Turing Test, Bayesian Reasoning, sieves, ontology, inference, algorithms machine learning, identity

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