AI Imaginaries: Artificial Intelligence in Literature

deadline for submissions: 
November 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Dr L. Acadia / National Taiwan University
contact email: 

**The ACLA extended the deadline to Nov 30th!**

ACLA (American Comparative Literature Association) 2022 Annual Meeting
June 15-18, 2022, National Taiwan Normal University (probably also online)

Submit a proposal:

Literature’s imaginings of Artificial Intelligence reflect ethical and social values, shape public hopes and fears, inspire technological development, and may even prefigure our futures. Humans are constructing AI: not only programmers through their coding, but also authors and readers through centuries of discourse, from ancient automatons to twentieth century robots to contemporary visions of artificial general intelligence. As AI becomes ever more human—and possibly superhuman—this panel asks, what are we constructing, and what can literature teach us about these AI imaginaries?

What ideals for the future do AI narratives express? Or to use Sheila Jasanoff and Sang-Hyung Kim’s term, how do we read the “sociotechnical imaginaries” of AI in speculative fiction? What shame from the past do these texts evoke? Kanta Dihal reads AI revolts in literature as slave narratives of “enslaved minds,” engaging the debate over whether humans should maintain dominance over machines, or engender respect for other intelligences and even grant rights to AI as Eileen Hunt Botting hopes, writing “passed down through cultures, humanity is an artificial form of collective emotional intelligence.”

Should we fear singularity or welcome AI as other creatures? What innovations (technological or otherwise) should we strive to bring from literature into our lives? What is literature’s potential for guiding development of AI? How might a country like Taiwan integrate literature into the curriculum training the next generation of developers to strengthen the semiconductor industry? Or if the AI of speculative fiction are, as Lee Worth Bailey argues, merely “human dreamlike analogies projected onto clockwork puppets in an unconscious fairy tale,” then what do these projections say about their human authors? What are geographic, temporal, or linguistic differences in depictions of AI? What would it mean to queer AI? What are the utopian imaginings of SF machine futures?

This panel invites submissions reflecting diverse critical approaches, geographical areas, and historical eras, from ancient proto-AI (e.g. The Mahāvastu, Apollonius Rhodius’s Argonautika, Lie Yukou’s Liezi), through early speculative fiction (e.g. Edmund Spenser's “The Faerie Queene,” Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam’s L'Ève future, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein), and classic SF (e.g. Karel Čapek’s R.U.R., Isaac Asimov’s “Multivac” stories, Anne McCaffrey’s The Ship Who Sang), to contemporary literature (e.g. Nnedi Okorafor’s “Mother of Invention,” Becky Chambers’s A Closed and Common Orbit, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun).

View the listing here: