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The Shape of Actions: What Humans and Machines Can Do (MIT Press) by [Collins, Harry, Kusch, Martin]
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The Shape of Actions: What Humans and Machines Can Do (MIT Press) Kindle Edition

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"In this unusual, challenging, interdisciplinary book, Collins andKusch have provided us with the best analysis we currently have of thedeterminants of the possibilities of automation." Donald MacKenzie , Department of Sociology, University of Edinburgh


What can humans do? What can machines do? How do humans delegate actions to machines? In this text, Harry Collins and Martin Kush combine insights from sociology and philosophy to provide an answer to these questions. The authors begin by distinguishing between two basic types of intentional behaviour, which they call polimorphic actions and mimeomorphic actions. Although machines cannot "act", they can mimic mimeomorphic actions, and thus mimeomorhpic actions are the crucial link between what humans can do and what machines can do. Following a presentation of their detailed categorization of actions, the authors apply their approach to a broad range of human-machine interactions and to learning. They also seek to show how their theory can be used to explain the operation of organizations such as restaurants and armies. Finally the text looks at a historical case - the technological development of the air pump - appying their categorization of actions to the processes of mechanization and automation. Automation, argue the authors, can occur only where what we want to bring about can be brought about through mimeomorphic action.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3952 KB
  • Print Length: 234 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0262032570
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (5 Jan. 1999)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ELW0C5Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,197,674 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most helpful customer reviews on 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 reviews
William Sheridan
5.0 out of 5 starsMachines only mimic behaviour, not human action.
26 May 1999 - Published on
7 people found this helpful.
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