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Capture and Generate: The New Language of AI

Leif Weatherby in conversation with Audrey Borowski

What we mean by the phrase “artificial intelligence” changes from decade to decade and year to year. The rise of “generative AI” has added language to the definition, and not only because chatbots have been the public face of AI for the last year. This talk will analyze the Transformer Architecture (a neural network architecture introduced by Google researchers that focuses on an attention-based mechanism to improve natural language processing tasks) and the language that makes it work, arguing that literary theory – in an updated version – is required to make sense of data culture today.

This event is part of the “AI and the Digital” series. This series will explore how AI and other digital technologies are influenced by concepts of the human and how they can be designed to be responsible, socially just and ecologically sustainable. Together with international experts, participants are invited to discuss the entanglement of thought and technology.

Leif Weatherby is associate professor of German, Director of the Digital Theory Lab, and Director of Digital Humanities at New York University. He writes about digital representation systems, political economy, and literary theory. His first book, Transplanting the Metaphysical Organ (2016), argued that German Romanticism was the first modern philosophy of technology. His work has appeared in Critical Inquiry, New German Critique, the New York Times and other public venues, and has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, among others.

Audrey Borowskiis a research fellow with the Desirable Digitalisation project, a joint initiative of the Universities of Bonn and Cambridge that investigates how to design AI and other digital technologies in responsible ways. She received her PhD from the University of Oxford and is a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and Aeon. Her first monograph Leibniz in His World: The Making of a Savantis forthcoming with Princeton University Press.

Monday 6th May

11am PT/2pm ET/7pm UK

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