AI Narratives: A History of Imaginative Thinking about Intelligent Machines

ISBN : 9780198846666

Stephen Cave; Kanta Dihal; Sarah Dillon
448 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Feb 2020
Send mail
  • The first book to examine the history of imagining intelligent machines
  • Split into two distinct sections: Classic AI to the modern age, and contemporary narratives
  • Explores AI narratives from literature, mythology, and folklore throughout history
  • Examination of the potential social, ethical, political and philosophical consequences of AI

This book is the first to examine the history of imaginative thinking about intelligent machines. As real Artificial Intelligence (AI) begins to touch on all aspects of our lives, this long narrative history shapes how the technology is developed, deployed and regulated. It is therefore a crucial social and ethical issue. Part I of this book provides a historical overview from ancient Greece to the start of modernity. These chapters explore the revealing pre-history of key concerns of contemporary AI discourse, from the nature of mind and creativity to issues of power and rights, from the tension between fascination and ambivalence to investigations into artificial voices and technophobia. Part II focuses on the twentieth and twenty-first-centuries in which a greater density of narratives emerge alongside rapid developments in AI technology. These chapters reveal not only how AI narratives have consistently been entangled with the emergence of real robotics and AI, but also how they offer a rich source of insight into how we might live with these revolutionary machines. Through their close textual engagements, these chapters explore the relationship between imaginative narratives and contemporary debates about AI's social, ethical and philosophical consequences, including questions of dehumanization, automation, anthropomorphisation, cybernetics, cyberpunk, immortality, slavery, and governance. The contributions, from leading humanities and social science scholars, show that narratives about AI offer a crucial epistemic site for exploring contemporary debates about these powerful new technologies.


Imagining AI, Stephen Cave, Kanta Dihal and Sarah Dillon
1: Homer's Intelligent Machines: AI in Antiquity, Genevieve Liveley and Sam Thomas
2: Demons and Devices: Artificial and Augmented Intelligence before AI, E. R. Truitt
3: The Android of Albertus Magnus: A Legend of Artificial Being, Minsoo Kang and Ben Halliburton
4: Artificial Slaves in the Renaissance and the Dangers of Independent Innovation, Kevin LaGrandeur
5: Making the Machine Speak: Hearing Artificial Voices in the Eighteenth Century, Julie Park
6: Victorian Fictions of Computational Creativity, Megan Ward
7: Machines Like Us? Modernism and the Question of the Robot, Paul March-Russell
8: Enslaved Minds: Artificial Intelligence, Slavery, and Revolt, Kanta Dihal
9: Machine Visions: Artificial Intelligence, Society, and Control, Will Slocombe
10: "A push-button type of thinking": Automation, Cybernetics, and AI in Mid-century British Literature, Graham Matthews
11: Artificial Intelligence and the Parent/Child Narrative, Beth Singler
12: AI and Cyberpunk Networks, Anna McFarlane
13: AI: Artificial Immortality and Narratives of Mind-Uploading, Stephen Cave
14: Artificial Intelligence and the Sovereign-Governance Game, Sarah Dillon and Michael Dillon
15: The Measure of a Woman: Fembots, Fact and Fiction, Kate Devlin and Olivia Belton
16: The Fall and Rise of AI: Investigating AI Narratives with Computational Methods, Gabriel Recchia

About the author: 

Edited by Stephen Cave, Executive Director, Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge, Kanta Dihal, Research Associate, Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge, and Sarah Dillon, Lecturer in Literature and Film, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge
Stephen Cave Dr Stephen Cave is Executive Director of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, Senior Research Associate in the Faculty of Philosophy, and Fellow of Hughes Hall, all at the University of Cambridge. After earning a PhD in philosophy from Cambridge, he joined the British Foreign Office, where he spent ten years as a policy advisor and diplomat, before returning to academia. His research interests currently focus on the nature, portrayal and governance of AI.
Kanta Dihal Dr Kanta Dihal is a postdoctoral researcher at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge. She is the Principal Investigator on the Global AI Narratives project, and the Project Development Lead on Decolonizing AI. In her research, she explores how fictional and nonfictional stories shape the development and public understanding of artificial intelligence. Kanta's work intersects the fields of science communication, literature and science, and science fiction. She is currently working on two monographs: Stories in Superposition, based on her DPhil thesis, and AI: A Mythology, with Stephen Cave.
Sarah Dillon Dr Sarah Dillon is University Lecturer in Literature and Film in the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge. Her books include The Palimpsest: Literature, Criticism, Theory (2007), Deconstruction, Feminism, Film (2018), and Listen: Narrative Evidence and Public Reasoning (2020, co-authored with Claire Craig). She is the General Editor of the series Gylphi Contemporary Writers: Critical Essays, and editor of two volumes in the series: David Mitchell: Critical Essays (2011), and Maggie Gee: Critical Essays (2015, co-ed). Dr Dillon was a 2013 BBC Radio 3/Arts and Humanities Research Council New Generation Thinker and regularly broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4.

Olivia Belton is a postdoctoral research associate at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at the University of Cambridge. She recently completed a PhD on posthuman women in science fiction television at the University of East Anglia. She is currently researching public perceptions of and media representations of autonomous flight.

Kate Devlin Senior Lecturer in Social and Cultural Artificial Intelligence at King's College London. Her research in Human-Computer Interaction and Artificial Intelligence investigates how people interact with and react to technologies, both past and future. She is the author of Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots (Bloomsbury, 2018), which examines the ethical and social implications of technology and intimacy.
Michael Dillon 
is Emeritus Professor of Politics at Lancaster University. Inspired by Continental Philosophy and the intersection of modern politics, science and religion, his work has focused on Security, on how Security has become a generative principle of formation for modern politics, and on the biopoliticisation of Security in the digital age. His last book was entitled Biopolitics of Security: A Political Analytic of Finitude (2015). His current book project is entitled Making Infinity Count. Michael Dillon Co-edits the Journal for Cultural Research (<https://www.tandfonline.com/rcuv20>, Routledge), and is Co-editor of a Monograph series on Political Theologies for Bloomsbury (<https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/series/political-theologies/>).
Ben Halliburton is a doctoral candidate at Saint Louis University. He is currently working on his dissertation, "Utriusque illorum illustrium regum, pari gradu consanguineus": The Marquisate of Montferrat in the Age of Crusade, c.1135-1225, under the supervision of Thomas Madden.
Minsoo Kang is an associate professor of history at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. He is the author of Sublime Dreams of Living Machines: The Automaton in the European Imagination (2011, Harvard University Press) and Invincible and Righteous Outlaw: The Korean Hero Hong Gildong in Literature, History, and Culture (2018, University of Hawaii Press). He is also the translator of the Penguin Classic edition of the classic Korean novel The Story of Hong Gildong, and the author of the short story collection Of Tales and Enigmas (2006, Prime Books).
Kevin LaGrandeur is Professor of English at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), and a Fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology (IEET). He specializes in literature and science; digital culture; and Artificial Intelligence and ethics. His writing has appeared in both professional venues, such as Computers and the Humanities, and Science Fiction Studies, and also in the popular press, such as the USA Today newspaper. His books include Artificial Slaves (Routledge, 2013), which won a 2014 Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Prize, and Surviving the Machine Age(Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).
Genevieve Liveley is a Turing Fellow and Reader in Classics at the University of Bristol, where her particular research interests lie in narratives and narrative theories (both ancient and modern). She has published widely in books, articles, and essays on narratology, on chaos theory, cyborgs, AI and how ancient myth might help us to better anticipate the future.
Graham Matthews is Assistant Professor in English at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His most recent book is Will Self and Contemporary British Society and his work on twentieth-century literature has appeared in journals and edited collections such as Modern Fiction Studies, Textual Practice, Journal of Modern Literature, Critique, English Studies, Literature & Medicine and The Cambridge Companion to British Postmodern Fiction.
Paul March-Russell is Lecturer in Comparative Literature at the University of Kent, Canterbury. He is the editor of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fictionand commissioning editor of the series, SF Storyworlds (Gylphi Press). His most recent book is Modernism and Science Fiction (Palgrave, 2015) whilst other relevant publications have appeared in The Cambridge History of the English Short Story (2016), The Cambridge History of Science Fiction (2019), The Edinburgh Companion to the Short Story in English (2018) and Popular Modernism and Its Legacies(Bloomsbury, 2018). He is currently working on contemporary British women's short fiction and animal/ecocritical theory.
Anna McFarlane is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at Glasgow University with a project entitled 'Products of Conception: Science Fiction and Pregnancy, 1968-2015'. She has worked on the Wellcome Trust-funded Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities project and holds a PhD from the University of St Andrews in William Gibson's science fiction novels. She is the co-editor of Adam Roberts: Critical Essays (Gylphi, 2016), and The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture (2019).
Sam Thomas completed her PhD in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Bristol, exploring the narrative ethics of Lucan's epic Civil War.
E. R. Truitt is Associate Professor of Comparative Medieval History at Bryn Mawr College (Pennsylvania, United States) and the author of Medieval Robots: Mechanism, Magic, Nature, and Art (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), as well as the author of numerous scholarly articles on the history of automata and clock-making, pharmacobotany and materia medica, astral science, and courtly technology in the medieval period. She has written for Aeon, The TLS, and History Today, she consulted on the Science Museum's exhibit "You, Robot."
Julie Park is a research associate at the Huntington Library and the author of The Self and It (Stanford University Press, 2010). She is completing My Dark Room: Spaces of the Inner Self, a monograph that takes the camera obscura as a conceptual model for understanding how novelistic interiority emerged through seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England's built environments. She has begun working on her next book project, Writing's Maker, which explores the materiality and intermedial methods of self-inscription technologies in the long eighteenth century. Her co-edited collection, Organic Supplements: Bodies, Objects and the Natural World 1580-1750, a cross-disciplinary collection of essays that examine the intimate bonds between living, organic things of the natural world and the human beings who wore, used and lived with them throughout the early modern period and the Enlightenment, is forthcoming from the University of Virginia Press.
Gabriel Recchia is a research associate at the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge, where he is currently studying how best to communicate information about risks, benefits, statistics and scientific evidence. Previously, he was at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, where he developed techniques for the analysis of large corpora of historical texts. He also conducts research on statistical models of language and their applications in the cognitive and social sciences.
Beth Singler is the Junior Research Fellow in Artificial Intelligence at Homerton College, Cambridge. In her anthropological research she explores popular conceptions of AI as well as its social, ethical, and religious implications. She has been published on AI apocalypticism, AI and religion, transhumanism, and digital ethnography. As a part of her public engagement work she has produced a series of short documentaries on AI and the first, Pain in the Machine,won the 2017 AHRC Best Research Film of the Year award. Beth is also an Associate Research Fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence.
Will Slocombe is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Liverpool, the Director of the MA pathway in Science Fiction Studies, and one of the Directors of the Olaf Stapledon Centre for Speculative Futures. He teaches modern and contemporary literature and literary theory, with a focus on science fiction. His main current research is concerned with representations of AI, and his second monograph, Emergent Patterns: Artificial Intelligence and the Structural Imagination, is forthcoming in 2020.
Megan Ward is Assistant Professor of English at Oregon State University and the author of Seeming Human: Artificial Intelligence and Victorian Realist Character (The Ohio State University Press, 2018). In addition, she co-directs Livingstone Online (www.livingstoneonline.org), a digital archive of the Victorian explorer David Livingstone.

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.