Attributing Intentionality to Artificial Intelligence: An Investigation

Matthew David Johnson, Fordham University


Matthew David Johnson BS, University of Oklahoma Attributing Intentionality to Artificial Intelligence: An Investigation Thesis directed by Peter Tan, Ph.D. Intentionality, a mental phenomenon characterized by the aboutness, directedness, or givenness of some object in the world is often defined by a few discrete traits. This thesis is directed at ascribing these traits to three different theories of intentionality, specifically phenomenological, analytical, and systematic intentionality. Furthermore, I probe if any one particular theory is best suited to attribute to the growing technology in Artificial Intelligence (AI). First, I’ve presented each theory and ascribed the traits of reflexivity, form, and detachability. After each theory is adequately defined, it becomes apparent that the analytic approach is the best suited to support current AI convolutional neural networks. However, growing capabilities and our perspective on these machines will call for a more refined approach as the limit of convolutional neural networks is reached. These limits are characterized by the technical flaws that arise in neural networks as we increasingly attempt to make these AI machines think more like their human inventors. A different kind of intentional position will be needed to support this endeavor, specifically the systematic interpretation of intentionality. Utilizing Daniel Dennett’s intentional stance, we can grant greater flexibility in the integration of various interpretations of intentionality. Although a rational approach to begin with, Dennett’s position needs refinement in order to adequately apply it to the current and future technological landscape. By implementing a modified intentional stance, we can provide an avenue by which we as philosophers and scientists can investigate further claims on consciousnesses and highlight what parameters can be attributed to AI systems as they inevitably become more advanced.

Subject Area

Philosophy|Artificial intelligence|Information Technology

Recommended Citation

Johnson, Matthew David, "Attributing Intentionality to Artificial Intelligence: An Investigation" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30489362.