Archaeologies of AI: From Bots to Spectres
Dates: 18, 25 September; 2, 9, 30 October 2023 + exhibition visits
Location: Utrecht University (Janskerkhof 2-3) & MCW Lab (Muntstraat 2A)
Instructor: Evelyn Wan (UU)
Credits: 5 ECTS
Register ↯ *
*This course is fully booked at the moment. If you sign up, you will be placed on a waiting list.
Who are we really interacting with when we chat with a bot? What lurks behind the interface of AI? What drives the anthropomorphic understanding of machines as intelligent beings? The course approaches AI from a media archaeological perspective, and studies media histories that might help us understand the medium of AI, such as chat-based AI like ChatGPT, Bard, Replika, Insomnobot-3000, and beyond.
The course departs from the idea that what algorithms feed forward to us in our present and future is always built on the past, where literal and metaphorical ghosts and traces return to haunt our digital medium. The term ‘medium’, as Jeffrey Sconce reminds us in Haunted Media (2000), refers to both medium as mediation as well as medium as spirit contact. In the first 4 seminar sessions, we read together contemporary literature on AI as well media-archaeological accounts to identify these literal and metaphorical ghosts, and to ascertain the extent to which AI is a haunted technology. For instance, we take a closer look at minor histories in the invention of technologies such as the telegraph and the telephone and explore their intertwinement with ghost and spirit communication in the late 19th and early 20th century. The course will end on a 4-hour student-led session, where we collectively share our research findings through presentations and discussions. The assessment of the course will be based on presentations and final papers (3000 words; creative formats welcome).
18 Sept, 1515-1815: Seminar
25 Sept, 1515-1815: Seminar
2 Oct, 1515-1815: Seminar
9 Oct, 1515-1815: Seminar
No class for 2 weeks: Digestion and independent research
30 Oct, 1300-1700: Presentations
Visit to Felix Meritis: Messyverse
(Opens on 2/3 September; exhibition and programme details to be announced)
If the Metaverse could one day be an extension of reality, how would it shape our lives? What are the inherent power structures and historical contexts that it builds upon? THE MESSYVERSE is a dynamic festival and exhibition exploring self expression, representation and identity within The Metaverse: the vast horizon of shared, persistent virtual worlds.
Visit to GHOST, Asa Horvitz
(touring dates in Sept/Oct, details to be announced)
Inspired by the death of his father and many members of his father’s family, in GHOST, Asa Horvitz and his colleagues sing texts created by an AI system trained on hundreds of books related to death, loss, and mourning. GHOST attempts to create a space in which the audience can drift, dream, and associate on the topics of death, loss, memories, archives–the permanent presence of the past.
Bookings are closed for this event.