Artificial intelligence's new frontier: artificial companions and the fourth revolution
In this paper I argue that recent technological transformations in the life-cycle of information have brought about a fourth revolution, in the long process of reassessing humanity’s fundamental nature and role in the universe. We are not immobile, at the centre of the universe (Copernicus); we are not unnaturally distinct and different from the rest of the animal world (Darwin); and we are far from being entirely transparent to ourselves (Freud). We are now slowly accepting the idea that we might be informational organisms among many agents (Turing), inforgs not so dramatically different from clever, engineered artefacts, but sharing with them a global environment that is ultimately made of information, the infosphere. This new conceptual revolution is humbling, but also exciting. For in view of this important evolution in our self-understanding, and given the sort of IT-mediated interactions that humans will increasingly enjoy with their environment and a variety of other agents, whether natural or synthetic, we have the unique opportunity of developing a new ecological approach to the whole of reality.