Artificial Intelligence

The age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has arrived, though not so much an age of sentient robots as one of ubiquitous data collection and analysis fuelling automated decisions, categorisations, predictions, and recommendations in all walks of life. The stakes of AI-enabled decision-making may be as serious as life and death (Spanish police use a system called VioGén to forecast domestic violence) or as trivial as the arrangement of pizza-toppings.

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In her novel Frankissstein (2019) – a reimagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) that embraces robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and transhumanism – Jeanette Winterson writes, ‘The monster once made cannot be unmade. What will happen to the world has begun.’  This observation might have served as an epigraph for her new book, 12 Bytes. Comprising twelve essays that ruminate on the future of AI and ‘Big Tech’, 12 Bytes contends that looming technological advances will demand not only resistance to the prejudices and inequalities endemic in our current social order, but also a reconsideration of what it means to be human: ‘In the next decade … the internet of things will start the forced evolution and gradual dissolution of Homo sapiens as we know it.’

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