Conference series: Science and Art of Simulation IV
Mathematics and technology are regarded as paradigms of clarity, traceability, and transparency. Seen from the outside, both may appear as enigmatic black boxes. Although for a long time, the working of the underlying relationships both in mathematics and technology were transparent for the experts; they revealed a well understood deductive system for the trained eye, a chain of necessities. However, their combination in computer simulation and machine learning creates challenges that are summarized under the title “epistemic opacity”. Epistemically opaque machines are said to represent a black box, the internal functioning of which cannot be fully elucidated. It is considered to be a novel phenomenon concerning the state of science. The novelty stems from a non-trivial entrenchment of mathematics and technology within the scientific method.
The fact that nature is opaque and should be elucidated by science is a classic topos Epistemic opacity, however, affects the scientific method by a complex interweaving of mathematics and technology. The procedure becomes nontransparent in a manner to be specified. This also raises the question of justifying results. Their justification is essentially linked to the method by which they were obtained.
The term “epistemic opacity” was brought into the discussion by Paul Humphreys (2004,2009), along with other things to characterize the novelty of the problems that computer simulation poses for philosophy. Since then it has been taken up many times, but systematic and historical clarification is pending. This is the subject of a three-day international interdisciplinary conference, which will take place at the High-Performance Computing Center of the University of Stuttgart (HLRS*) from the 28th to 30th of November 2018. The Science and Art of Simulation (SAS) conference series is intended to bring simulation scientists, philosophers, sociologists, and historians together. In the context of the SAS conference, the interdisciplinary interaction of simulation scientists and humanities, and social sciences experts is of great importance. Theoretical as well as practical questions on opacity and non-transparency in computer simulation and machine learning will be discussed; like which strategies will be applied in practice for dealing with opacity?
Interested simulation scientists, philosophers, sociologists, and historians can submit contributions on the following topics (non-exclusive):
For more information, visit: https://philo.hlrs.de/?p=367
* The HLRS is a research institute and a supercomputer center with one of the fastest computer systems worldwide. HLRS conducts its own research in the field of high-performance computing. Emphasis is placed on the topics of scalability, performance optimization, big data, green IT, and in the application areas of health, environment, energy and mobility. The HLRS also houses a department for the philosophy of science and technology of computer simulation.