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Accepted Contribution:

AI folklore at the edge of the future  
Minna Ruckenstein

Contribution short abstract:

The informational asymmetry in AI development, controlled by a handful of corporations, promotes folklore. Rather than dismissing AI folklore, it should be explored, as it can reveal how technologies are woven into our lives and attempts to master and be inspired by ongoing cultural transformation.

Contribution long abstract:

The goal of my intervention is to introduce the notion of AI folklore, which encompasses the vernacular culture of beliefs, stories, and predictions surrounding the advent of AI. I suggest that everyone, including anthropologists, contributes to AI folklore due to the collective inability to fully grasp current developments. The informational asymmetry in AI development, predominantly controlled by a few corporations, provides a fertile ground for folklore. Rather than dismissing AI folklore, however, I propose making it the focal point of our inquiry, as it provides a lens to examine historically ingrained and situationally emerging structures of thought and feeling, practices, and future anticipations.

Incorporating AI folklore into our research, allows us to delve into enthusiastically shared canonical narratives, ambivalent responses, and anticipation in future making. The growing prevalence of learning and responsive systems underscores the relevance of studying AI folklore, especially since folklore informs technical realities. When we encounter compelling stories about how AI will disrupt our lives, or how it operates, these narratives are likely shape AI-related practices and responses. Therefore, AI folklore extends beyond the personal, domestic, and imaginative realms, influencing technical, political, and economic realities. AI folklore makes it clear that the future is not determined by technologies, but by how these technologies are woven into our endeavors and attempts to master and be inspired by ongoing cultural transformation. Here, we are all at the edge of the future, and it matters what we do and think that is occurring at this critical moment.

Roundtable RT032
Artificial intelligence: the Oppenheimer moment?
  Session 1 Thursday 25 July, 2024, -