Rapid advances in information and communication technology (ICT), and in artificial intelligence (AI), and their subsequent rapid uptake by society at large, has significantly changed linguistic communication in a variety of ways. An important and underexplored question is what the impact of all these changes are on the nature of linguistic meaning and communication, and to the fundamental concepts that underpin our accounts of language use. One answer is Revisionism: the view that these developments have substantially changed the nature of linguistic meaning and communication, and that many of our concepts and theories require revision. But which phenomena motivate revisionism and what might these revisions be? The central aim of the project is to develop revisionist models to accommodate changes to the nature of linguistic meaning and communication as a result of the increased prominence of online and digital environments, and artificial language users. More specifically, the project will address the following six research questions: 1. What are the meanings of new referential and anaphoric devices that arise in online/digital communicative environments - like hashtags and hyperlinks? 2. What are the felicity conditions of the new kinds of speech acts that form part of our online/digital communicative environments? 3. How should we account for the content of "speech" produced by bots and AIs of various kinds? 4. How has online and digital communication changed the nature or prominence of existing speech acts, like assertion? 5. Are our current notions of "utterance'", "context", "discourse" and "information structure" adequate to the task of understanding linguistic meaning and communication in online/digital environments? Do they serve the appropriate meaning-determining role in the semantics of indexicals, and other context- and discourse-sensitive terms? 6. Can bots/AIs lie or mislead? What is it to deceive in the (mis)information age?
Project leader: Rachel Sterken
Institution: Institutt for filosofi, ide- og kunsthistorie og klassiske språk