Speakers at the Thoughts on Bots Conference

Plenary Speaker: Lauren M. E. Goodlad

Jane Goodlad headshotLauren M.E. Goodlad is Distinguished Professor of English & Comparative Literature Rutgers as well as the chair of Critical AI @ Rutgers and the editor of Critical AI, a new journal published by Duke University Press.

She is the author of The Victorian Geopolitical Aesthetic: Realism, Sovereignty, and Transnational Experience as well as the co-editor of What Is and Isn't Changing: Critique After Post-Critique a December 2020 special issue of MLQ. Her work on AI-adjacent topics includes "Now the Humanities Can Disrupt AI," (an essay in Public Books co-authored with Samuel Baker), "A Study in Distant Reading: Genre and the Longue Durée in the Age of AI" (MLQ) and "Adapting College Writing for the Age of Large Language Models Such as ChatGPT" (co-authored with Anna Mills).

She is the lead PI for Design Justice AI, a Mellon-CHCI Global Humanities Institute to take place at the University of Pretoria in 2024. 

Plenary Lecture: "The Lifecycle of Writing Subjects: An Interdisciplinary Approach"

In this lecture, Goodlad explores so-called generative AI with an emphasis on the socio-technical and politico-economic specificities of the large language models (LLMs) that subtend it. She discusses LLMs--systems for generating human-like text—in relation to Ted Chiang’s The Lifecycle of Software Objects (2010). Though this novella follows a long line of literary works that render AI in terms of an anthropomorphized technology that does not exist, its near future story world is nonetheless illuminating of today’s data-driven systems in terms of prediction and optimization, and their relation to the material conditions and “lifecycle” of writing subjects.