Duchamp on Alien Thought

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


In 1976, AI pioneer Joseph Weizenbaum described machinic reasoning as ‘alien thought.’ Weizenbaum reasoned that, since the domain of thinking was ‘determined by man’s humanity,’ ‘every other intelligence, however great, must necessarily be alien’ (Weizenbaum 1976: 223). Several decades later, the expression is used to mark the difference between algorithmic determinism of the ‘if you don’t pay your car insurance you’ll be automatically locked out of your car’ kind and the more mysterious machinic operations like incomputability. First discovered by mathematician Gregory Chaitin, incomputability arises from algorithmic indeterminacy (Chaitin 2005). Both are notoriously difficult to understand in a qualitative, non-formulaic way; however they are similar to indeterminate artistic procedures, such as those pioneered by the ‘father of conceptual art’ Marcel Duchamp.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Philosophical Salon
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2021


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