New article on Social Science perspectives on AI

Published: December 9, 2020

Amanda Lagerkvist, project leader in WASP-HS and Professor of Media and Communication Studies at Uppsala University, has published a theoretical article in the Journal of Digital Social Research and their thematic issue on “Unpacking the Algorithm: Social Science Perspectives on AI”.

Her article “Digital limit situations: Anticipatory media beyond ‘the new ai era´” problematizes in an existential perspective, the idea that AI development is inevitable and asks questions about how the future can be imagined and created with and without AI.

This special issue collects six articles tackling artificial intelligence (AI) from a social science perspective. The editors hope is that this special issue of Journal of Digital Social Research will help define what a social science of AI could and should entail, and that it will also stimulate further discussions about the role of social science perspectives in both intra- and interdisciplinary AI research.


In the abstract Amanda Lagerkvist writes:
“In the present age AI (artificial intelligence) emerges as both a medium to and message about (or even from) the future, eclipsing all other possible prospects. Discussing how AI succeeds in presenting itself as an arrival on the human horizon at the end times, this theoretical essay scrutinizes the ‘inevitability’ of AI-driven abstract futures and probes how such imaginaries become living myths, by attending how the technology is embedded in broader appropriations of the future tense. Reclaiming anticipation existentially, by drawing and expanding on the philosophy of Karl Jaspers – and his concept of the limit situation – I offer an invitation beyond the prospects and limits of ‘the new AI Era’ of predictive modelling, exploitation and dataism. I submit that the present moment of technological transformation and of escalating multi-faceted and interrelated global crises, is a digital limit situation in which there are entrenched existential and politico-ethical stakes of anticipatory media. Attending to them as a ‘future present’ (Adam and Groves 2007, 2011), taking responsible action, constitutes our utmost capability and task. The essay concludes that precisely here lies the assignment ahead for pursuing a post-disciplinary, integrative and generative form of Humanities and Social Sciences as a method of hope, that engages AI designers in the pursuit of an inclusive and open future of existential and ecological sustainability.”

Journal of Digital Social Research is published by DIGSUM – The Centre for Digital Social Research at Umeå University.

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