Meeting Summary: Advances in machine learning, especially those derived from deep learning architectures have dramatically expanded the reach and application of natural language processing. The effects are experienced both in the quotidian – the human-like “conversation” with machines through chatbots or unstructured queries, machine-written advertising, marketing, and journalism – as well in the academy. In particular, computing continues to nudge, if not reshape literary studies through next-generation distant reading technologies (topic modeling, word-sentence-paragraph embeddings, etc.). Advanced machine writing technologies (e.g., Grammarly) in turn influence what and how we write. In short, AI is creating new genres, new forms of analysis, and new challenges and opportunities for pedagogy.
In this three-day working group/workshop, a small group of scholars with expertise ranging from machine learning to the humanities and (places in between) will explore the influence of computing in the literary disciplines. We hope it will be the first of several meetings that will grow to include a broad and rotating group of participants. In this first meeting we will use our time to (Day 1) frame the issue in a discussion of the history of computing – looking for origins stories as well as paths not taken; (Day 2) discussions of current research; (Day 3) Speculations on the future of computing in and for the humanities. In some sense, day 3 is most exciting – we will ask all attendees to respond to the prompt “What will computing in the humanities look like in 2030?”
In addition to SFI, this working group is generously cosponsored by the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute and the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College.