Who/What/When is After AI? 

On Friday May 17th, the Shifting Power team in KMi, alongside Dr. Justin Hunt from Queen Mary University and Arts Council England, and Dr. Ben Sweeting from the Radical Research Methodologies group at the University of Brighton, held an online post-disciplinary symposium on artificial intelligence. The “After AI?” Symposium used the concept of “after” as an index of both time and an object of inquiry – something that may come about following another event and something we are chasing. The symposium tackled topics such as: How might we imagine our futures within and without AI (as it is coming to be known, or will be known)? Will the dreams and nightmares all come to pass? What can we recognise right now and from the past that makes this future happen? 

The idea of making this event post-disciplinary was a response to the apparent silos in which thinking about the impacts of artificial intelligence takes place, the lack of representation for some stakeholders within the scientific literature, and the general need for a broader set of techniques and methodologies for answering key questions around artificial intelligence. 

Panel sessions attracted over 100 attendees throughout the day. Speakers explored concepts of play in connection to what AI might do now and in the future, in the context of the ecological costs that make the possibility of a future sustainable AI less likely (or even improbable) without serious intervention. They surfaced the political, economic and social entanglements of AI, particularly around dystopian or apocalyptic visions and how this connects to other concepts of colonialism, race and class. Others drew connections with the past, ancestral knowledge and activity, and how this may intervene or connect with understandings of ‘progress’. Finally, speakers explored impacts on and through different “cultures” and the cultural artefact of AI, as it looks now and how it might look in the future. 

This After AI? symposium demonstrated the knowledge exchange and synergies that can emerge from a post-disciplinary exploration of AI, connecting artists, researchers and activists to consider its far-reaching influence and the need for thoughtful imagined futures.

The full symposium program can be found online here. Recordings will also be made available on the symposium website and on the Shifting Power website


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