College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date

3-2016

Document Type

Thesis

College/Department Conferring Degree

English

Keywords

American fiction post-1980, artificial intelligence, posthumanism in fiction, William Gibson, Daniel Suarez, Ann Leckie

Abstract

As Artificial Intelligence grows in its capabilities, Science Fiction works attempt to make sense of our understanding of humanity in relation to our developing understanding of AI. The paper examines this relationship across three perspectives. The colonial perspective — examined through a short film from the Animatrix collection — views humanity as the empire and AI as the colony. The apocalyptic perspective — examined through the works of Ray Kurzweil and Hans Moravec — embraces the oncoming singularity as a revelation. The prelapsarian perspective — seen through Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence — tries to prepare humanity for its possible downfall. These frameworks are then applied to Daniel Suarez’s Daemon, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, and William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy to draw out assumptions regarding AI and its relationship to humanity within the works. The paper concludes with the assertion that while the future of AI may be uncertain, its importance cannot be ignored, and thus we must take stock of the various ways SF works attempt to make sense of it.

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