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Accepted Paper:

Imagineering AI: the kinetics of integrating fantastical creatures in Danish businesses  
Sunniva Sandbukt (IT University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

Through the lens of 'imagineering', this paper analyses a case of prototype development by Danish SMEs and AI experts, illustrating how AI is materialised and practically integrated into the SMEs, but also how the fantasy of AI affects the distribution of resources and valuation of forms of labour.

Paper long abstract:

“We want to pull AI down to earth.” The words are spoken in early 2021 to the representatives of a small selection of Danish SMEs at the opening session of a project titled AI Denmark. They are the first of 6 cohorts that will participate in half-year long collaborations to develop technological prototypes with AI experts from Danish research institutions. AI prototypes expected to ‘generate value’ for the companies, the institutions, and perhaps the nation itself.

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with both SMEs and experts participating in AI Denmark, this paper explores how a high-level concept such as AI gains social meaning, affecting the flow of capital and labour as it is translated from policy to company level. Describing this process, I draw on the concept of ‘imagineering’, made famous in the development of Disney amusement parks to describe the practical process of engineering solutions that can bring the imagined, the fantasy, to life through steel pylons, fibreglass, and animatronics.

This paper explores how the concept of imagineering can help us understand the translation of fantastical AI creatures into python scripts, CSV files, and robotics. Moreover, how are the kinetics of this materialisation experienced by AI Denmark’s participants? By drawing attention to how the fantasy affects the distribution of resources for development and disparate valuation of the labour involved in its implementation, this paper hopes to use the lens of imagineering to develop a more nuanced and balanced approach to expectations of the ‘value’ offered by AI.

Panel P11a
Immersed in the Story: Narrating about and with New Technologies
  Session 1 Monday 6 June, 2022, -