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Inside the Mind of an AI: Materiality and the Crisis of Representation

Thursday, 9 February 2023, 6 – 8pm

Inside the Mind of an AI: Materiality and the Crisis of Representation

A public lecture by Prof N. Katherine Hayles (University of California, Los Angeles) organised by the School of Histories and Humanities as part of the Neurohumanities Lecture Series.

OpenAi has developed a state-of-the art AI, GPT-3 (Generative Pretrained Transformer-3) that is the first AI to be able to produce human-competitive texts. Already essays, poems, and even books generated by GPT-3 have appeared, raising deep questions about how literary criticism should respond to these texts. This talk will discuss various options, arguing that literary criticism cannot afford to ignore the vast differences in materiality between humans and an AI. The first strategy, which Hayles calls the null strategy, considers human and AI texts as being on an equal footing. This is a mistake, the talk argues, for it ignores the fact that GPT-3 does not have a model of the world, which all humans effortlessly construct from birth onward. All it has is a model of language, which opens its productions to a systemic fragility of reference. Nevertheless, from the billions of inference it makes and, even more consequentially, networks of inferences, it learns not only human language but also human social practices and even human thinking. Thus, in addition to the null strategies, four other strategies are discussed that take into account the material basis for language generation, acknowledging that humans and AIs operate from very different epistemologies.

Please register here.

Please indicate if you have any access requirements, such as ISL/English interpreting, so that we can facilitate you in attending this event. Contact:

Campus LocationTrinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute
Accessibility: Yes
Room: Neill Lecture Theatre
Event Category: Lectures and Seminars, Public
Type of Event: One-time event
Audience: Faculty & Staff, Public
Cost: Free
Contact Name: Dr Timothy Stott

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