This project aims at building a cultural history of Artificial Intelligence, based on a mixed method, combining the methods of the history of ideas and the history of collective imaginations with a search of scientific literature and ethnographic field work among AI creators. Our goal is to understand AI through its narratives, symbols, cultural contexts, in short as a "technoculture". We will question the concepts of AI, which will be mapped and studied historically, the knowledge of AI practitioners which will be approached through ethnographic surveys, and the artistic and fictional cultures of AI. Methodological originality, the collaboration with Inria specialists working on natural language processing will allow to use AI as an analytical tool while constituting a field of ethnographic investigation.
To this end, the project combines a set of original methods: a synchronic examination of the highly interdisciplinary and varied scientific culture of contemporary AI through a search of its literature in order to map its semantics and concepts (WP1) ; a series of field surveys based on the ethnography of science and technology in four different and representative cultural contexts (Silicon Valley, where contemporary industrial AI originated, an Asian country representative of the enthusiasm for a wide variety of AI uses, an authoritarian country likely to see AI as an instrument of social control, and old Europe), in order to understand the "technoculture" of practitioners (WP2); a retrospective history mobilizing some of the best historians of science and technology, the methods of archival work and oral history, and cultural historians in order to understand ideas that are often inseparable from sensitive representations (WP3).
Monsieur Alexandre Gefen (Théorie et histoire des arts et des littératures de la modernité)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
THALIM Théorie et histoire des arts et des littératures de la modernité
CIS Centre Internet et Société
Inria de Paris Centre de Recherche Inria de Paris
Help of the ANR 367,360 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2021 - 36 Months