Expert views about missing AI narratives: is there an AI story crisis?

AI and Society (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Stories are an important indicator of our vision of the future. In the case of artificial intelligence, dominant stories are polarized between notions of threat and myopic solutionism. The central storytellers—big tech, popular media, and authors of science fiction—represent particular demographics and motivations. Many stories, and storytellers, are missing. This paper details the accounts of missing AI narratives by leading scholars from a range of disciplines interested in AI Futures. Participants focused on the gaps between dominant narratives and the untold stories of the capabilities, issues, and everyday realities of the technology. One participant proposed a “story crisis” in which these narratives compete to shape the public discourse on AI. Our findings indicate that dominant narratives distract and mislead public understandings and conceptions of AI. This suggests a need to pay closer attention to missing AI narratives. It is not simply about telling new stories, it is about listening to existing stories and asking what is wanted from AI. We call for realistic, nuanced, and inclusive stories, working with and for diverse voices, which consider story-teller; genre, and communicative purpose. Such stories can then inspire the next generation of thinkers, technologists, and storytellers.

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