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Humanist Archives: Aug. 27, 2022, 7:04 a.m. Humanist 36.140 - artificial intelligence and science fiction?

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 140.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2022-08-27 05:51:17+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: AI & SF?

I am continuing to look for comprehensive and insightful studies of the
relationship between artificial intelligence and science fiction. This
relationship has been noted for decades, both for the contrast of scifi
with 'real science' and for the indebtedness of the latter to the former.
Despite that, Sarah Dillon and Jennifer Schaffer-Goddard write in "What
AI researchers read: the role of literature in artificial intelligence
research"*, empirical studies have been lacking. To address this, they 
offer "a pilot interview study investigating the leisure reading habits of 
20 practising AI researchers based in the United Kingdom."

In Common Sense, the Turing Test, and the Quest for Real AI (MIT Press,
2017) Canadian computer scientist Hector Levesque defines AI as “the
study of how to make computers behave the way they do in the
movies”--tongue in cheek? He seems quite serious to me.

For movies one thinks of The Matrix, Ex Machina and many others; I'd
insist on including Charlie Brooker's television series Black Mirror,
especially "Hated in the Nation" (2016) and "Be Right Back" (2013).
These raise the question beyond the biographical one rigorously pursued
by Dillon and Schaffer-Goddard to suggest further the perpetual futurity
of AI, which some would see as in conflict with, some generative of the
permanent achievements of the natural sciences.

Any suggestions or comments?

* Open-accessible at

Willard McCarty,
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

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