Affirming and Denying the Hybrid Character of Robots: Literary Investigations

art, literature, digital culture studies

The social relation between humans and robots can be observed through the words used in the human-robot verbal interaction (Coeckelbergh, 2011). This study reviews Mark Coeckelbergh’s theory in the literary context by regarding writing and co-writing as linguistic interaction between humans and robots. It argues that the fictional as well as documented real writing experiences reveal not only the intuitive but also the normative dimension of the language. Two works of contemporary literature involving linguistic interaction: Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan and My Algorithm and Me by Daniel Kehlmann serve as research objects. It is concluded that the intuitive doesn’t always correlate with the normative dimension in the selected literary works. This tendency indicates a conflict between the experiential and the conceptional aspects, which deserves further attention in ethical and technical discourses.  – This is one of six commentaries on a 2011-paper by Mark Coeckelbergh: “You, robot: on the linguistic construction of artificial others.” Coeckelbergh‘s response also appears in this issue of Technology and Language.