Hubert Dreyfus and The Matrix

One of the activities we were asked to undertake this week was to critique ‘found’ contexts by tracking some of the online public personae of the authors whose work we have engaged with so far.

One of those I Googled was Dreyfus, the supposed Luddite enemy of AI. His Wikipedia page threw up the ‘usual’ impressive academic CV. It also contained an interesting deconstruction of some of the criticisms which have been levelled at his stance about the possibility of AI and which have resulted in his harpooning by voices as diverse as Dennett and Robocop:

dreyfus reputation

What Dreyfus’ Wikipedia profile evidences is that Wikipedia allows for the construct – often a debated and tension-filled construct – of a public persona by a plurality of authors; rather than typing ourselves into existence, Wikipedia enables many others to type a version of ‘us’ into existence.

One of the other strands which captured my interest in my search was the second entry on the first page of Google results:

Dreyfus 1

I followed this to the Berkeley site and found what I felt was quite a personal plea from Dreyfus about his condition:

Dreyfus 2

And so, from this, I started to create my own story about Dreyfus, my own construct of ‘Dreyfus’. In this tale, the reason for his own ontological philosophical interests was due to his condition, his prosopagnosia, which meant that he felt frequently disconnected from others and questioned what it meant to ‘be’, to be ‘conscious’ and to be ‘connected’: these personal considerations became academic pursuits which have occupied him throughout his career…

We are, in part, the authors of whatever we read; whoever initially authors it, be it the one on Twitter or the many on Wikipedia, we construct our version, our interpretation, our story out of what we read. And, as Justine Sacco discovered, that can be costly.

This exhibition explored, amongst other ideas, the notion that our shadows, our selves, construct and manipulate the words around us:


We project onto what we read, we create what we see. In the constructs which are social media personae, we encounter abstract echoes of the originals, what Baudillard termed simulacra and simulation; the real ‘has become irrelevant if undefinable’:



2 Replies to “Hubert Dreyfus and The Matrix”

  1. Hello Helen,

    Lots of intriguing ideas here 🙂

    I found Dreyfus annoying to read but I have to say I’m inclined to agree with him about the importance of the embodied social self. Interesting that reading your construction of Dreyfus has made me more interested in his work than reading the texts he authored.



  2. Hello Velda,

    That’s the great thing about constructs isn’t it? We can manipulate, rework and, ultimately, see something which interests us (and perhaps also reflects us) in it. I’m toying with these ideas as I develop my assignment task. I definitely want to focus on creativity and construction.



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