What Sci-Fi Futures Can (and Can’t) Teach Us About AI Policy, open­ing and clos­ing comments

AI Policy Futures is a research effort to explore the rela­tion­ship between sci­ence fic­tion around AI and the social imag­i­nar­ies of AI. What those social mea­sures can teach us about real tech­nol­o­gy pol­i­cy today. We seem to tell the same few sto­ries about AI, and they’re not very helpful.

Bridging AI Fact and Fiction

This is going to be a con­ver­sa­tion about sci­ence fic­tion not just as a cul­tur­al phe­nom­e­non, or a body of work of dif­fer­ent kinds, but also as a kind of method or a tool.

Untold AI — What AI Stories Should We Be Telling Ourselves?

How peo­ple think about AI depends large­ly on how they know AI. And to the point, how the most peo­ple know AI is through sci­ence fic­tion, which sort of rais­es the ques­tion, yeah? What sto­ries are we telling our­selves about AI in sci­ence fiction? 

How Sci-Fi Reflects Our AI Hopes and Fears

We came up with the idea to write a short paper…trying to make some sense of those many nar­ra­tives that we have around arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence and see if we could divide them up into dif­fer­ent hopes and dif­fer­ent fears.

AI in Reality

When data sci­en­tists talk about bias, we talk about quan­tifi­able bias that is a result of let’s say incom­plete or incor­rect data. And data sci­en­tists love liv­ing in that world—it’s very com­fort­able. Why? Because once it’s quan­ti­fied if you can point out the error you just fix the error. What this does not ask is should you have built the facial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­o­gy in the first place?

AI in Sci-Fi

What I hope we can do in this pan­el is have a slight­ly more lit­er­ary dis­cus­sion to try to answer well why were those the sto­ries that we were telling and what has been the point of telling those sto­ries even though they don’t now nec­es­sar­i­ly always align with the pol­i­cy prob­lems that we’re having.

The Sci-Fi Feedback Loop

We’re here because the imag­i­nary futures of sci­ence fic­tion impact our real future much more than we prob­a­bly real­ize. There is a pow­er­ful feed­back loop between sci-fi and real-world tech­ni­cal and tech pol­i­cy inno­va­tion and if we don’t stop and pay atten­tion to it, we can’t har­ness it to help cre­ate bet­ter fea­tures includ­ing bet­ter and more inclu­sive futures around AI.