The ultimate future of literature and literary studies in the age of thinking and evolving machines.
From Literature to Biterature is based on the premise that in the foreseeable future computers will become capable of creating works of literature. Among hundreds of other questions, it considers: Under which conditions would machines become capable of creative writing? Given that computer evolution will exceed the pace of natural evolution a million-fold, what will such a state of affairs entail in terms of art, culture, social life, and even nonhuman rights?
Drawing a map of impending literary, cultural, social, and technological revolutions, Peter Swirski boldly assumes that computers will leap from mere syntax-driven processing to semantically rich understanding. He argues that acknowledging biterature as a species of literature will involve adopting the same range of attitudes to computer authors (computhors) as to human ones and that it will be necessary to approach them as agents with internal states and creative intentions.
Ranging from the metafiction of Stanislaw Lem to the "Turing test" (familiar to scientists working in Artificial Intelligence and the philosophy of mind) to the evolutionary trends of culture and machines, Swirski's scenarios lay the groundwork for a new area of study on the cusp of literary futurology, evolutionary cognition, and philosophy of the future.
252 Pages, 6 x 9
Formats: Cloth, eBook
"Swirski's work is an accessible introduction to the domain of Artificial Intelligence and its impact on the presumed emergence of computer-generated literature - a thought-provoking concept." Tomasz Lem, author of Adventures in the Field of Universal Gravitation
“From Literature to Biterature is the best thing that’s appeared since Future Shock by Alvin Toffler. At points fascinating, unsettling, and profound, Swirski effortlessly integrates philosophy of mind, robotics, literary studies, cultural trends, futurology, evolution, and many other areas of intellectual analysis. There is no other book like it.” Waclaw M. Osadnik, Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, University of Alberta
"Once I had a chess-playing computer that was programmed to comment on my moves. The greatest praise it could bestow on one of them was to inquire, 'Are you also a computer?' Is this an omen of our literary future? Will computers one day win not only chess tournaments but Pulitzer Prizes? Will biterature overcome literature? Peter Swirski thinks so, and he also thinks that Turing and Darwin have told us how it can happen. If his book inspires and provokes you as much as it did me, reading it is a move that even my chess computer would complement." Jaakko Hintikka, Department of Philosophy, Boston University
“Overall, a stimulating, enjoyable read.” Choice
“However beautiful or ugly computer code may be, it is still written by humans. In From Literature to Biterature, Peter Swirski, a professor of American studies and the culture at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis, proposes a new version of the Turing Test: can computers write literature?... it is fascinating to imagine machines that operate on their own creative terms, working outside the scripts humans write for them and beyond the boundaries of what we now recognize as creativity.” Times Literary Supplement
“This latest book confirms [Swirski’s] skill in handling transdisciplinary studies, blending in the proposed route from literature to biterature issues of science, mind philosophy and society.” Leonardo
Peter Swirski is professor of American literature and culture at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis and former research director at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. He is the author of twelve books, including Ars Americana, Ars Politica: Partisan Expression in Contemporary American Literature and Culture.
Narrative Intelligence; Test of Time; Avocados or Wombats; Institute for Advanced Studies; Builtware and Bitware; Paignton Zoo 3
Toscanelli’s Map; Bloomsday; Titan; Manchester Mark; Manglers and Mashers; Suits for the Dawn Patrol; Charabia; Short for Raconteur; I Gave Myself an Electric Current; Abe’s Saloon!; Humming (to Itself?) 17
Poetic Licence; Devotchka; Analytical Engine; EZ-Writer; Möbius-Like; JFK; One-Armed Bandit; Homeostat Sapiens; As It Sees Fit; Brainstorm; A1, B2, C3; Black Boxes 35
La Chanson de Roland; The Motherboard of All Problems; Little Endian; Algo Trading; Father Roberto Busa; Riverside Shakespeare; Death in Holbein; Zettabyte; A Hamlet Every Eight Seconds; A Pill That Makes Me Feel Loved 53
Non Serviam; Collective Loss of Morale; Slippery Slope; Artificial Stupidity; Prometheus and Dolus; L’Homme Machine; DARPA; Nobel Prize in Biterature; Chatbots in Chatter 71
Supercalifragilistic; Adroit Android; Imitation Game; Parry; Exit Human, Enter Machine; I, Object; I Always Avoid a Kangaroo; Reverse Turing Test; Ultimatest; Aramis 89
Troubles with Functionalism; Print This!; Trompe l’Oeil; Like the Pope; A Bevy of Pigeons; No More, No Less; Dicty; Operational Definition?; Flugblogs; On Being Mental 111
Kismet; PaPeRo; Guilty as Charged; Eureka; Meaning; Elementary, Dear Wason; Biology in Action; Driving Range; Insula Cortex; On Being Redundant 130
Methuselah; Yes!; An Amphibian with a Stick; Ellipses in This Picture; Software for the Soul; Parallel Paradigm; Erlang and Mira; DelFlies; Eruntics; Cogito Paradox 149
9 How to Make War and Assassinate People
Ice-Pick and Ricin; A Small African Country; Licence to Kill; Solsects, Sunsects, Synsects; Fires at the Sun; Candy, Anyone?; Bacteriology; Safe Investment 171
10 Biologic, or the Philosophy of Error
Axiomatic Givens; Nature’s Greatest Error; Wandering Jew; Critique of Pure Reason; Manna from Heaven; What Is; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern 183
11 Mind Your Business
100,000 Years; You’re Flying Low, Mac; Neuromancer; See Further; The Making of a Fly 197