The Lifecycle of Writing Subjects: An Interdisciplinary Approach
Presented by the Human Machine Intelligence Lunchtime Series:
Goodlad will explore so-called generative AI with an emphasis on the socio-technical and politico-economic specificities of its large language models (LLMs). She discusses LLMs--systems for generating human-like text—in relation to Ted Chiang’s The Lifecycle of Software Objects (2010). Though this novella follows a long line of literary works that render AI in terms of an anthropomorphized technology that does not exist, its near future story world is nonetheless illuminating of today’s data-driven systems in terms of prediction and optimization, and their relation to the material conditions and “lifecycle” of writing subjects. The talk relates to Ted Chiang’s novella, The Lifecycle of Software Objects. If you’d like to read it in advance, it is available online.
Lauren M.E. Goodlad is Distinguished Professor of English & Comparative Literature Rutgers as well as the chair of Critical AI @ Rutgers and the editor of Critical AI, a new journal published by Duke University Press. She is the author of The Victorian Geopolitical Aesthetic: Realism, Sovereignty, and Transnational Experience as well as the co-editor of What Is and Isn't Changing: Critique After Post-Critique a December 2020 special issue of MLQ. Her work on AI-adjacent topics includes "Now the Humanities Can Disrupt AI," (an essay in Public Books co-authored with Samuel Baker), "A Study in Distant Reading: Genre and the Longue Durée in the Age of AI" (MLQ) and "Adapting College Writing for the Age of Large Language Models Such as ChatGPT" (co-authored with Anna Mills). She is the lead PI for Design Justice AI, a Mellon-CHCI Global Humanities Institute to take place at the University of Pretoria in 2024.