Since its inception in the 1950s, the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been nurtured by the dream – cherished by some scientists while dismissed as unrealistic by others – that it will lead to forms of consciousness similar or alternative to human life. Yet, AI might be more accurately described as a range of technologies providing a convincing illusion of intelligence – in other words, not much the creation of intelligent beings, but rather of technologies that are perceived by humans as such. Drawing from the history of AI from the Turing Test to contemporary AI assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, the talk will argue that AI resides also and perhaps especially in the perception of human users. Taking up this point of view helps realize how our tendency to project humanity and intelligence into things makes AI potentially disruptive for social relationship and everyday life in contemporary societies.
Simone Natale joined Loughborough University in 2015 and is since 2018 Programme Director for Loughborough's Communication and Media undergraduate programmes. His main areas of interest are media history and digital media. He completed his Ph.D. in Communication Studies at the University of Turin, Italy, in 2011, and has researched and taught in numerous international institutions, including Columbia University in New York, USA, Humboldt University Berlin and the University of Cologne in Germany, and Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. He is the author of a monograph, Supernatural Entertainments: Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2016), and of articles published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Communication, New Media & Society, Communication Theory, Media, Culture & Society, and Media History. He was awarded research fellowships by world-leading institutions such as the Humboldt Foundation and Columbia University’s Italian Academy. He is Assistant Editor of Media, Culture & Society.