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Literature and Technology: Reclaiming the Legacy of Fiction?

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Organizer: Ana Ilievska

Co-Organizer: Nina Beguš

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In this panel, we would like to think through the topic of Literature and Technology starting from the following provocative statement: “by claiming complete conceptual and creative novelty in the ways in which it approaches AI and robot design, the tech industry is disenfranchising a long literary and philosophical tradition that has approached the mind-body problem, humanoids, and general issues concerning technology at least since Homer’s self-propelled tripods in the Iliad.” This claim is inspired by Adrian Daub’s 2020 publication What Tech Calls Thinking where the “intellectual bedrock” of Silicon Valley is traced back to such thinkers as Karl Marx, René Girard, Marshall McLuhan, but also writers such as Hermann Hesse, Jack Kerouac, and Aldous Huxley. 


 

Keeping this in mind, but shifting the focus towards literature, we invite abstract submissions that tackle (but are not limited to) the following themes and questions:



  • Can and should fiction and the humanities speak to contemporary technological concerns?

  • What are some concepts from literature (especially literature written before WWII) that could be discreetly applied to ethical-philosophical issues in technology? 

  • A literary “archeology” of the tech world: What literary texts might have inspired the creation and design of computer programs, robots, and AIs? 

  • Can literature bring a less human-centered perspective to technology (such as planetary)?

  • More general, what is and what could be literature’s role in the actual making of technologies?

Please email your paper abstacts and a short bio to ilievska@stanford.edu and nbegus@berggruen.org by October 31st 2021.

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