“Now There Is”: What We Think When We Think about Machine Thinking
Vision & Objectives
What does it mean for so many of us to be caught up in a collection of files that pass from one machine to another and are processed into other kinds of files? Is the invisibility of it all–and invisibility that is effectively magic–to us? In this course we take up the question of artificial intelligence, but not in the embodied form of robots and droids–e.g., Robbie or R2D2–but in the form of faceless, disembodied entities like UNIVAC or Deep Blue.
Paper. The final paper in this class asks you to reflect on the methodological work we have done in terms of understanding texts and the topical considerations for the term – in this case how we imagine “artificial intelligence.” Your objective is to complete by the end of the semester an essay which takes up a text, or several texts, that we did not discuss in class and examine it for its representation of how intelligences, human and artificial, relate, reflect, refract a particular concern, anxiety, question or some other topic of your choosing. The paper must be grounded in textual evidence and that evidence must be presented in a contextualized fashion and a considered sequence such that your audience is “naturally” led from your initial proposition to agreement with your thinking on the matter.
|1909||E. M. Forster, “The Machine Stops” PDF / txt / Wikisource|
|1946||Murray Leinster, “A Logic Named Joe” PDF / txt|
|1945||Isaac Asimov, “Escape!”|
|1970||Philip K. Dick, A Maze of Death|
|1970||Colossus: The Forbin Project (film) (Wikipedia)|
|2016||HBO’s Westworld (based on the 1973 film by Michael Crichton)|
|1966||Billion-Dollar Brain (book, film)|
|1983||WarGames (film) (Wikipedia)|
|1999||Smart House (Disney film)|
|2001||A.I. Artificial Intelligence (film) (Wikipedia)|
|2006||Daniel Suarez, Daemon|
|2013||Her (film) (Wikipedia)|
|-||The Machine (British film)|
In addition to the texts above, the Wikipedia entry on Artificial Intelligence in Fiction is well worth your time.
Considerations and Coverage
Franklin, H. Bruce. 1983. Don’t Look Where We’re Going: Visions of the Future in Science-Fiction Films, 1970-82 (“Ne cherche pas à savoir où on va”: les Visions de l’avenir dans le cinéma de SF de 1970 à 1982). Science Fiction Studies 10/1: 70-80. JSTOR.
Goldman, Steven L. 1989. Images of Technology in Popular Films: Discussion and Filmography. Science, Technology, & Human Values 14/3: 275-301. JSTOR.
- AI will eliminate 6 percent of jobs in five years, says report. What are cognitive services?
- When do the Laws of Robotics apply?
- Tech Giants Team Up To Tackle The Ethics Of Artificial Intelligence
- The first Colossus.
- Computers inventing their own language/code.
- The Verge has done a nice job over the years of keeping discussions about AI at a fairly high-level. In 2014, they offered and then again in 2019 they offered “AN AI READING LIST — FROM PRACTICAL PRIMERS TO SCI-FI SHORT STORIES”][verge2019]. https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/29/18200585/understand-ai-artificial-intelligence-reading-list-books-scifi
- Inverse: Inside the ‘Westworld’ Set’s Luxury Dystopian Cowboy Disneyland “The main things people want to do in Westworld is they want to kill, eat, or have sex”
- In a meta moment, there’s another course about the same topic as this one.