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Novelty as a Threat

Humans frequently see novelty or difference as a threat. Perhaps this is a lingering survival tactic, as explained by Nikaj in Octavia Butler’s Dawn: “Different is threatening to most species. […] Different is dangerous. It might kill you” [17]. While fear may be linked to survival, this tendency when lacking temperance can cause obsessive paranoia, aggression, and avoidance. While not truly new, the use of Artificial Intelligence in art is by no means “conventional” and frequently faces antipathy.


Additionally, many popular depictions of AI position it as a threat to humanity’s future. Chung describes how many of these negative narratives are “really influenced by science fiction and pop culture. And that tends to be hypermasculine, hyper-dystopian. That’s why we have all these really sensational stories about AI” [18]. What Chung and many other artists have to confront is the human-versus-machines savior complex embedded in these narratives: the belief that should AI turn against humanity, a human figure (generally coded as white and male) will arise to save the world. This mentality encourages people to view AI as an adversary to be controlled rather than a complement to human intelligence.


These narratives play into inherent fears and biases that society has towards the “different” or “unknown,” tactics which have been historically used to ostracize, demean, and inflict harm on those seen as “other.” Rather than endorsing these tendencies, many artists are working to rewrite them from the ground up and provide alternate, realistic representations.


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