What Does It Mean To Become A Master?

In the 1960's and 70's, the advent of computers not only reinforced this notion of man as a rational animal, it also led many people to predict that we would soon have machines that could think and act just like human beings. In 1972, however, Hubert Dreyfus's seminal and controversial book What Computers Can't Do anticipated the failure of what came to be known as "artificial intelligence".

In the book, Dreyfus explains that human beings are not at all like computers. We do not apply abstract, context-free rules to compute how to act when we engage in skilled behavior. Instead, Dreyfus argued, the fundamental thing about humans is that we are embodied beings living in a shared world of social practices and equipment. In the end, it is our skillful mastery and our shared practices that not only distinguish us from machines but allow us to assume meaningful identities.