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Harry Collins

Harry Collins is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for the Study of Knowledge, Expertise, and Science at Cardiff University. He is the author of Changing Order, Gravity’s Shadow, Gravity’s Ghost, Gravity’s Ghost and Big Dog, and other books. He is coauthor of Bad Call: Technology’s Attack on Referees and Umpires and How to Fix It (MIT Press).

Titles by This Author

The Detection of Gravitational Waves

Scientists have been trying to confirm the existence of gravitational waves for fifty years. Then, in September 2015, came a “very interesting event” (as the cautious subject line in a physicist’s email read) that proved to be the first detection of gravitational waves.

Technology’s Attack on Referees and Umpires and How to Fix It

Good call or bad call, referees and umpires have always had the final say in sports. Bad calls are more visible: plays are televised backward and forward and in slow motion. New technologies—the Hawk-Eye system used in tennis and cricket, for example, and the goal-line technology used in English football—introduced to correct bad calls sometimes get it right and sometimes get it wrong, but always undermine the authority of referees and umpires.

What Humans and Machines Can Do

What can humans do? What can machines do? How do humans delegate actions to machines? In this book, Harry Collins and Martin Kusch combine insights from sociology and philosophy to provide a novel answer to these increasingly important questions.The authors begin by distinguishing between two basic types of intentional behavior, which they call polimorphic actions and mimeomorphic actions. Polimorphic actions (such as writing a love letter) are ones that community members expect to vary with social context. Mimeomorphic actions (such a swinging a golf club) do not vary.

Social Knowledge and Intelligent Machines

In Artificial Experts, Collins explains what computers can't do, but he also studies the ordinary and extraordinary things that they can do. He argues that the machines we create are limited because we cannot reproduce in symbols what every community knows, yet we give our machines abilities by the way we embed them in our society. He unfolds a compelling account of the difference between human action and machine intelligence, the core of which is a witty and learned explanation of knowledge itself, of what communities know and the ways in which they know it. H. M.