Current & Forthcoming
Projects in various stages of completion
Speculative title: 'Cyborg Conception: technologized reproduction and posthuman families in literary and cultural imagination'
Current: Cyborg Conception (ISSF funded, October 2020-October2021)
This project will investigate how issues surrounding assisted reproduction are narrativized in contemporary culture and how the technologizing of reproduction has shaped posthuman discourse since the first successful human IVF pregnancy in 1978. To respond to my research questions, I will investigate three genres. The first concerns how fertility is articulated to children and young people; for example, the educational importance for public understandings of fertility health and the social and emotional wellbeing of children conceived through technological intervention. The second genre is life writing; an important strand is graphic novels which finds a natural companion in infographics used by medical professionals and businesses to convey complex fertility issues/options to patients. The third genre is science fiction after 1978 to investigate how assisted reproduction in literature has helped demystify fertility and explore ethical anxieties. The capacity of science fiction to imagine future medical technology will push the project to consider the future of assisted conception.
To focus the primary texts, I will concentrate on three thematic strands: how each genre addresses newly visible family constructions; how technologizing conception readdresses the relationship between foetus and mother; and how cyberverse navigates multi-genre narratives of assisted reproduction and helps new family formations gain visibility.
Outputs include two peer reviewed journal articles, one in The BMJ Journal of Medical Humanities, and another in Modern Fiction Studies to strengthen my publication record in advance of an external grant. These outputs will complement the Wellcome’s mission of extending medical humanities knowledge.
Timeline: Complete October 2021
Speculative title: 'The Legal Ramifications of the AGI 'Holy Grail'
In progress (partially funded Beyond AGI)
Although AGI is considered to be the Holy Grail of the AI field, I reposition the question to speak after the Holy Grail has been won. This forthcoming paper, a rework of an award winning conference paper, explores the legal consequences of the AGI Holy Grail. The wealth of scholarly and science fiction examples reveal a profound ambition to create an evolved intelligence and, most vitally, a will to place this AGI within the human sphere as deserving of liberty, claim, power and immunity. I also wonder if legal rights will one day be the Holy Grail for AGIs.
Artificial General Intelligence refers to the successful construction of intelligent machines, in which the intelligence is argued to be equal to, or surpassing, human intellect. AGI is, for many, the coveted goal of the artificial intelligence field. However, once this goal is achieved a question of where the AGI fits into the human arena may be debated. One way advanced AGI may impact the human world is in regards to legal rights. Because AGI will demonstrate ‘general intelligence’ equivalent (if not superior) to general intelligence displayed in the standard human, then a question of legal positioning may occur. My focus is not on exploring whether AGI should enter the courts in the quest for legal rights, but what would happen if this became a reality. Thinkers such as Justin Leiber and David Gunkle explore whether technology can and should have rights and explore the ‘machine question’ more broadly by looking at issues of cognition, moral agency, personhood and so on. However, my focus instead is to examine how the pursuit of rights would have impact on social perspectives and on current law.
In order for me to carve out an area of focus – that of the impact of AGI legal rights –I shall examine how science fiction foresees this issue transpiring.