Rachel Horst, The University of British Columbia; Esteban Morales, The University of British Columbia;
According to many across disciplines, industries, and creative sectors- humanity is at a pivotal moment in history, after which our relationship with data, meaning, and the physical world may never be the same. Recent developments in natural language processing and AI systems harnessing the intelligence and knowledge-creation potential embedded in enormous language models have exploded into view and are accelerating much faster than our ability to comprehend what the ramifications may be. These powerful systems are already detecting cancer, writing poetry, developing code, and facilitating cost-effective ecological data monitoring and collection across greater temporal and spatial scales than is feasible by human researchers alone. This panel invites scholars to take a speculative onto-epistemological position upon the possible futures of AI. What are the potential material consequences of an increased reliance upon AI systems to compute and generate possibility? How will our meaning-making processes be transformed? How might we harness AI to contend with the wicked ecological problems of our time? Drawing upon a range of interdisciplinary perspectives, panelists are invited to cast their critical gaze into near and distant futures and interrogate the ethical and material consequences of AI. How will these systems transform our physical environments and interior landscapes, from infrastructures and ecosystems to our sense of human agency and creativity? What interventions might we make now, to guide AI technologies towards enabling more just, democratic, and equitable futures for all?