Skip to main content
Machine Decision Is Not Final: China and the History and Future of Artificial Intelligence

Machine Decision Is Not Final: China and the History and Future of Artificial Intelligence

Current price: $19.95
Publication Date: July 30th, 2024


An interdisciplinary, cross-cultural collection that decenters familiar narratives to provide a fresh perspective on what artificial intelligence is today, and what it might become.

Historians, media theorists, science-fiction writers, philosophers, and artists from China and elsewhere reexamine the nation’s intense engagement with AI, moving beyond the clichés that still dominate contemporary debate.

Today, visions of the contested future of AI veer between common planetary goals and a new Cold War, as culturally-specific models of intelligence, speculative traditions, and thought experiments come up against the emergence of novel forms of cognition that cannot be reduced to any historical cultural tradition.

This uniquely positioned volume provides expert insight into this tension, using China as a touchstone for rethinking "artificiality" and "intelligence" as sites of difference in a way that is already present in the difficulty of precisely translating the Chinese term 人工智能. Tracking the history of Chinese AI from the pre-Cultural Revolution to the post-Deng Xiaoping eras right up to contemporary debates surrounding facial recognition, the writers in this collection draw on a mixture of speculative thought experiments and cutting-edge use cases to offer singular views on topics including AI and Chinese philosophy, AI ethics and policymaking, the development of computational models in early Chinese cybernetics, and the aesthetics of Sinofuturism.

Spanning borders between different worlds, histories, futures, and foundational models, Machine Decision is Not Final is not only a timely reappraisal of the stakes of AI development, but a tool for constructing more global imaginaries for the future of AI.

Blaise Aguera y Arcas, Bo An, Benjamin Bratton, Shuang Frost, Vince Garton, Steve Goodman, Yvette Granata, Anna Greenspan, Amy Ireland, Xia Jia, Bogna Konior, Vincent Le, Lawrence Lek, Lukas Likavcan, Suzanne Livingston, Iris Long, Bingchun Meng, Reza Negarestani, Chen Quifan, Gabriele de Seta, Hongzhe Wang, Wang Xin, Mi You

About the Author

Benjamin Bratton is a philosopher, design theorist, sociologist of technology, and the author of The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (MIT Press), and The Revenge of the Real: Politics for a Post-Pandemic World. He is Programme Director of the New Normal at Strelka Institute in Moscow, Director of the AI & Culture Research Centre at NYU Shanghai, Professor of Digital Design at the European Graduate School and of Visual Arts at the University of San Diego.
Anna Greenspan is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Global Media at NYU Shanghai. She was the founding member of the Cybernetic Cultures Research Unit at the University of Warwick, where she defended her PhD in Philosophy. Her research focuses on urban China, material culture, philosophy of technocapitalism, and emerging media.
Bogna Konior is a writer and Assistant Arts Professor at Interactive Media Arts department of NYU Shanghai. Her work examines the philosophy of technology and digital culture, and has recently focused on post-Cold World technopolitical diversity, technological determinism, and the evolution of techno-environmental media.