New publication problematizes myths of the New AI Era


New publication from the BioMe research project problematizes myths of “the New AI Era” through reclaiming anticipatory media existentially. In a new theoretical essay – Digital Limit Situations: Anticipatory Media Beyond “the New AI Era” –published in a special issue of the Journal of Digital Social Research, entitled “Unpacking the Algorithm: Social Science Perspectives on AI” Amanda Lagerkvist scrutinizes the ‘inevitability myth’ of AI-driven futures, and argues for the necessity of imagining a more inclusive and open future of existential and ecological sustainability for AI design.


In the present age AI (artificial intelligence) emerges as both a medium to and message about (or even from) the future, eclipsing all other possible prospects. Discussing how AI succeeds in presenting itself as an arrival on the human horizon at the end times, this theoretical essay scrutinizes the ‘inevitability’ of AI-driven abstract futures and probes how such imaginaries become living myths,by attending how the technology is embedded in broader appropriations of the future tense.

Reclaiming anticipation existentially, by drawing and expanding on the philosophy of Karl Jaspers – and his concept of the limit situation – I offer an invitation beyond the prospects and limits of ‘the new AI Era’ of predictive modelling, exploitation and dataism. I submit that the present moment of technological transformation and of escalating multi-faceted and interrelated global crises, is a digital limit situation in which there are entrenched existential and politico-ethical stakes of anticipatory media. Attending to them as a ‘future present’ (Adam and Groves 2007, 2011), taking responsible action, constitutes our utmost capability and task. The essay concludes that precisely here lies the assignment ahead for pursuing a post-disciplinary, integrative and generative form of Humanities and Social Sciences as a method of hope, that engages AI designers in the pursuit of an inclusive and open future of existential and ecological sustainability.

Keywords: anticipation; existential philosophy; Karl Jaspers; AI; existential media; uncertainty; surveillance capitalism

Lagerkvist, Amanda. (2020). Digital Limit Situations: Anticipatory Media Beyond ‘The New AI Era’. Journal of Digital Social Research, 2 (3), 16–41.

Amanda Lagerkvist, professor at the Department of Informatics and Media, Uppsala University.