Brave New Storyworlds: Literary AI Narratives in Contemporary English Literature

February 20, 2023, 3:00 p.m. (CET)

Time: February 20, 2023, 3:00 p.m. (CET)
Venue: online
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In this presentation, Curtis Runstedler argues that literary narratives function as invaluable tools for critical reflection upon intelligent systems, and moreover act as catalysts for cultural change. To illustrate this, he cites two Anglophonic texts depicting intelligent systems: Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun (2021) and Isaac Asimov's short story Robbie  (1950). Both texts act as simulations to explore these challenges and reflect upon challenges of co-existing with emerging technologies and intelligent systems, albeit in different time periods, and adversely the consequences of these systems sharing spaces with us as humans. Ishiguro’s Klara, for instance, exemplifies the ethical concern of not being wholly accepted within her society, since she is ultimately disposed of and ends up in a landfill at the end of Klara and the Sun. Similarly, Robbie is disposed of and replaced with a better model despite saving Gloria's life. Despite his seemingly "human" characteristics, Robbie is still rejected due to technophobic fears of the machine. Reading these literary narratives as models for story-worlds / world-making also enables the reader to predict and explain both human and robotic behaviour within these social contexts. 

Organised by the Literature and Science forum

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IRIS aims to critically reflect on intelligent systems, their foundations, mechanisms, and effects with regard to larger societal contexts. Since the development and use of intelligent systems have the potential to fundamentally change our society, IRIS also seeks to initiate public debates on questions of responsible design of intelligent systems and to provide a forum for dialogue and knowledge transfer between science and society.

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