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07 July 2021

Call for Contributions: Artificial Intelligence and the Human – Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Science and Fiction

The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG), the Japanese-German Center Berlin (JDZB) and Waseda University (Tokyo) invite to an international Japanese-German conference on the topic of AI and the human. Abstracts should be submitted to no later than 20 September 2021.

Artificial Intelligence and the Human – 
Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Science and Fiction

A Japanese-German Conference in Berlin, Germany

12-13 May 2022
Edited Volume (2023)

Current debates on artificial intelligence often conflate the realities of AI technologies with the fictional renditions of what they might one day become. The line between science and fiction is getting increasingly blurry: what is already a fact, what is still only imagination; and is it even possible to make this clear-cut distinction? Innovation and development goals in the field of AI are inspired by popular culture, such as its portrayal in literature, comics, film or television. At the same time, images of these technologies drive discussions and set particular priorities in different societal systems. The discourses on AI, robots and intelligent, even sentient machines are nothing short of a mirror of the human condition: they renew fundamental questions on concepts such as consciousness, free will and autonomy or the ways we humans think, act and feel. 

Imaginations about the human and technologies are far from universal, they are culturally specific. This is why a cross-cultural comparison is crucial. Focusing on concepts, representations and narratives from different cultures, the conference aims to address two axes of comparison that help us make sense of the diverse realities of artificial intelligence and the ideas of what is human: Science and fiction, East Asia and the West. 

Papers are invited on the following topics (among others):

• Which meanings and functions are ascribed to AI technologies and robots?

• How is science informed by popular discursive images of AI?

• Which cultural differences are there concerning the relationship between the natural and the artificial? What are the particular traditions of how to represent the human and its technological surrogates?

• What can the different cultural and conceptual histories tell us about our present and future with artificial intelligence?

All contributions are expected to address the comparative perspective on East Asian and Euro-American discourses. Besides papers on these more general topics, we also invite case studies on innovative technologies and their fictional precursors as well as on the social, ethical or political contexts in which they are applied. We welcome contributions from scholars of diverse disciplines, such as cognitive science, computer science, cultural studies, literature and film studies, media and communication studies, psychology, political science, science and technology studies or sociology. Interdisciplinary approaches as well as perspectives from practitioners and developers are particularly encouraged.

Submission process

• Extended abstracts of approximately 4,000 to 6,000 characters in length (excl. references) should be submitted no later than 20 September 2021 to

• Speakers will be notified by 15 November 2021.

Conference and publication of selected papers in an edited volume 

• The conference will take place on Thursday 12 and Friday 13 May 2022 in Berlin.

• Invitations for the submission of selected full manuscripts sent out in June 2022.

• Full manuscripts of between 30.000 to 50.000 characters (excluding references) to be submitted by September 2022.

• Comprehensive review returned to authors in December 2022; final papers due in February 2023.

• The edited volume will be published in mid-2023.

For more information, visit the website of the event. If you have any questions, you can contact the conference organisers via

Thomas Christian Bächle, Dr.

Head of research programme: The evolving digital society

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