Reading Robots


Reading Robots: Artificial Intelligence and Ethical Criticism

Small Group Project 2022-23

The development of artificial intelligence brings with it a host of unsolved ethical questions, and the development of solutions to these problems is lagging behind the development of the technology. The ANU School of Cybernetics was founded on the premise that these ethical solutions need to come from interactions between disciplines, including those in the humanities. The proposed project will ask how representations of artificial intelligence in literary works might offer new ways of seeing and understanding ethics in AI. To do this, I will draw on the methodologies of Ethical Criticism, which involve asking how works of literature can communicate ethical ideas in ways that would be impossible in discursive philosophical writing. 

The project is tailored to fit the available time in two ways: it focuses on one specific text and on one ethical problem. I am using Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun as a case study, proposing that this text offers new ways of understanding the ethical concept of attention in relation to artificial intelligence. I am focusing on attention in part because this has become an area of particular concern in AI ethics, especially in the form of surveillance anxiety.

The work plan for the visit involves three strands: regular collaborative meetings between the PI and McLennan; a guest lecture; and a series of pedagogical workshops with research students at the School, exploring the potential use of literary modes of attention cultivated by close reading workshops in research around artificial intelligence. The main outputs are a book chapter and further collective grant applications.

Contacting Fellows

If you would like to contact any of our Fellows to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at [email protected].