Doing the Future Differently: AI and the new ‘response-ability'

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

The future is upon us, or so it seems. Not for the first time, and surely not for the last, bold and far-reaching claims are being made about how new technologies will change the world. Artificial intelligence will solve previously intractable problems - climate change, cancer and inequality - or, alternatively, will lead to the downfall of the human race. The reality of course will lie somewhere in between. Where, exactly, is far from inevitable.

At present, our capacity to intervene in these potential futures is limited by the separation of expertise into discrete disciplines within the Academy, and beyond. This talk proposes an interdisciplinary approach to digital futures in three parts. First, it builds on social science theory to establish a sociotechnical approach to the future. This insists that how we think about the future, in the past and the present, is critical to how particular futures will emerge. Second, it evaluates current thinking about AI futures to find gaps and uncertainties that offer promise for intervention. Third, it considers how we might approach AI futures differently, to challenge determinism through speculative design, inclusive capacity building and public dialogue. Together, these hold the promise of a new collective 'response-ability' that may allow us to approach the future differently.