This keynote looks at the prehistory of AI fictions and it is a broad, pan-historical sweep over the whole period from 1000 B.C.E. to the Renaissance. I will investigate which kinds of fictional representations of intelligent machines have remained in the collective practices of storytelling.
Dr. Kevin LaGrandeur is Professor of English at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), where he specializes in technology and culture. He is also a Fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology, an international think tank, and a co-founder of the NY Posthuman Research Group. Dr. LaGrandeur has written many articles and conference presentations on digital culture; on Artificial Intelligence and ethics; and on literature and science. His publications have appeared in journals such as Computers & Texts, Computers and the Humanities, and Science Fiction Studies; in books such as Beyond Artificial Intelligence: The Disappearing Human-Machine Divide (Springer, 2014), which contains his essay, ‘Emotion, Artificial Intelligence, and Ethics,’ The Cambridge Companion to Literature and the Posthuman (Cambridge University Press, 2017), and AI Narratives (Oxford University Press, 2020). He has also published on Artificial Intelligence, society, and ethics in popular publications such as USA Today and United Press International (UPI). His book Artificial Slaves (Routledge, 2013), about the premodern cultural history of Artificial Intelligence and its foreshadowing of today’s technology, was awarded a 2014 Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Prize. In April, 2017, his latest book, co-edited with James Hughes, was published. About the future of AI’s displacement of human workers and how to meet this challenge, it is titled Surviving the Machine Age: Intelligent Technology and the Transformation of Human Work. Among his current projects, he and his colleague John Misak are developing an a Virtual Reality game to help students understand Shakespeare and his world. He is also a Co-Founder and Co-Director of the New York Posthuman Research Group.