09 February 23
ZeM – Brandenburg Centre for Media Studies
ZeM SPRING LECTURE “The Mothers of AI? Alan Turing’s Response to Ada Lovelace”
While the field of AI is full of “fathers”, “mothers” are noticeably absent. One of the only contenders is the nineteenth-century mathematician Ada Lovelace, who recognized that Babbage’s Analytical Engine, an early model of the computer, could not only crunch numbers but could also manipulate, according to rules, other symbols (for instance, musical notes or letters). For this brilliant insight, she has been recognized by some as the first computer programmer. However, she also pointed out that, although a useful tool, this hypothetical machine could never “create”. Alan Turing objected to her argument and the “fathering” metaphor and his “child machine” has since become ubiquitous in the field. Over seventy years later is it time to revive Lovelace’s insight?
Moderation: Dr. Katharina Rein, Universität Potsdam
Teresa Heffernan is Professor of English Language and Literature at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS and currently a fellow at the Käte Hamburger Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies at the University of Heidelberg. Her current research is on the science and fiction of robotics and AI. Her books include: the edited collection Cyborg Futures: Cross-disciplinary Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Palgrave (2019); Veiled Figures: Women, Modernity, and the Spectres of Orientalism (2016); and Post-Apocalyptic Culture: Modernism, Postmodernism, and the Twentieth-Century Novel (2008). Her articles have appeared in journals such as AI & Society, Studies in the Novel, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Arab Journal for the Humanities, Subject Matters, Canadian Literature, Twentieth Century Literature, and English Studies in Africa. She runs the website: https://socialrobotfutures.com, for more info on her research, see Teresa’s personal website.