The social turn of artificial intelligence

Nello Cristianini, Teresa Scantamburlo, James A C Ladyman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
124 Downloads (Pure)


Social machines are systems formed by material and human elements interacting in a structured way. The use of digital platforms as mediators allows large numbers of humans to participate in such machines, which have interconnected AI and human components operating as a single system capable of highly sophisticated behavior. Under certain conditions, such systems can be understood as autonomous goal-driven agents. Many popular online platforms can be regarded as instances of this class of agent. We argue that autonomous social machines provide a new paradigm for the design of intelligent systems, marking a new phase in AI. After describing the characteristics of goal-driven social machines, we discuss the consequences of their adoption, for the practice of artificial intelligence as well as for its regulation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0
Pages (from-to)0-0
Number of pages8
JournalAI and Society
Early online date4 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Intelligent agents
  • Social Machines
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Human–computer interaction
  • Cybernetics
  • Autonomous agents
  • Teleology


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