Artificial Intelligence and future imaginaries

This article is part of my Master’s Thesis - Future Imaginaries. Previous Chapter: 4.1 Tools for the examination of future imaginaries

Anyone who conducts scenario processes today, as mentioned in the introduction, whether with stakeholders from business, politics, or civil society, is quite likely to take up the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) during the discussion of key drivers. Among all the potential Future Imaginaries currently dominating the public discourse on the future in Germany and worldwide, AI was chosen for this brief consideration at the end of this paper. The reason for this is that it is a primarily technological topic. However, public discourse has long since transcended this framework. It is not only the business community developing strategies for dealing with and using AI. Many citizens are increasingly concerned about how AI will influence their lives.12

What is deliberately avoided in this chapter is a more precise definition of AI. It is virtually a characteristic of AI that it has broken away from a specific technical definition and is now characterized in public discourse by the vagueness typical of Future Imaginaries. This allows an enormous room for interpretation for various actors who associate their expectations, hopes, and fears with the term. And so, the discourse around AI in 2019 even makes it into the Christmas sermon of Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki.3

In the following, two analyses on the topic of AI will be considered, each of which relies on one of the methodological approaches listed in the last chapter. They show how possible future imaginaries can be approached on the topic of AI and are potential starting points for further development of methods for identifying and deconstructing future imaginaries.4

Next Chapter: 4.2.1 AI and science fiction

  1. see Knobloch, T. (2018, September 30). Der Staat als KI-Pionier. Tobias Knobloch. Zugegriffen: 29. Mai 2019 

  2. see Al-Ani, A. (2019). Digitalisierung in Deutschland: Wir müssen lernen, völlig anders zu denken. Die Zeit. Hamburg. Zugegriffen: 29. Mai 2019 

  3. Süddeutsche Zeitung. (2019, Dezember 25). Weihnachtspredigten: KI und Jesu Bot- schaft. Sü Zugegriffen: 2. Januar 2020 

  4. A third analysis that could serve as a starting point for further methodological development is to look at AI using Inayatullah’s CLA, combined with the genealogy from his poststructuralist toolbox as undertaken by Elissa Farrow.5 She shows how the myths and metaphors around AI have evolved over time. Due to space limitations, the analysis cannot be explored in more detail in this thesis. 

  5. Farrow, E. (2019). To augment human capacity—Artificial intelligence evolution through causal layered analysis. Futures, 108, 61–71. 

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