Online book launch: “Deceitful Media: Artificial Intelligence and Social Life after the Turing Test”

Simone Natale is happy to invite you to the online launch of his latest book, Deceitful Media: Artificial Intelligence and Social Life after the Turing Test (Oxford University Press, 2021). The event, organized for the book’s release in Europe and the UK, brings the author in conversation with three leading scholars of AI and algorithmic culture:

Veronica Barassi, St. Gallen University, Switzerland
N. Katherine Hayles, University of California, USA
Christian Katzenbach, University of Bremen, Germany
Moderator: Paolo Bory, Polytechnic University of Milan, Italy

This online event takes place on Tuesday, 19 October 2021 at 5-6:30 BST on Zoom; registered participants will receive the link to join the Zoom session before the event. Participation is free upon registration, places are limited. A livestream will be provided for those who were not able to complete the registration.

Please register here:

About the book:

Deceitful Media invites us to reformulate the key question about AI: not how intelligent machines are, but how intelligent they appear to be.
Integrating media studies, science and technology studies, and social psychology, Deceitful Media examines the rise of artificial intelligence throughout history and exposes the very human fallacies behind this technology. Focusing specifically on communicative AIs, Natale argues that what we call “AI” is not a form of intelligence but rather a reflection of the human user. Using the term “banal deception,” he reveals that deception forms the basis of all human-computer interactions rooted in AI technologies, as technologies like voice assistants utilize the dynamics of projection and stereotyping as a means for aligning with our existing habits and social conventions. By exploiting the human instinct to connect, AI reveals our collective vulnerabilities to deception, showing that what machines are primarily changing is not other technology but ourselves as humans.

Endorsements:”Deceitful Media makes a compelling case that the development of artificial intelligence is inextricably woven together with fallacies of human perception. A remarkable achievement, this accessible and well-written book is a ‘must-read’ for media scholars, cultural critics, and anyone interested in the significance of artificial intelligence for our time.” – N. Katherine Hayles, author of Postprint: Books and Becoming Computational
“From the time of Alan Turing’s Game of Imitation, the benchmark of machine intelligence has been deceptive communicative behavior. In Deceitful Media, Simone Natale provides a decisive and revealing analysis of the history, significance, and social consequences of deception in artificial intelligence, demonstrating how and why deceit is not a bug to be fixed but a defining feature of both the theory and practice of AI.” – David J. Gunkel, Northern Illinois University
“A fundamental fear surrounding artificial intelligence is that it will one day become a technology of deception. As Simone Natale informs us in Deceitful Media, that day is already here. However, such deception is not the malicious kind of science fiction; rather, the deceit of AI is one enacted in our minds as they encounter technologies carefully crafted to our social nature. By situating AI within the context of media and communication theory, Natale dispels the hype surrounding AI as a technology, replacing it with a theoretical lens informed by the seemingly mundane elements of our ongoing interactions with AI as forms of media.” – Andrea Guzman, Northern Illinois University
“A remarkable critical history of the artifice central to artificial intelligence. Natale has peered beyond the scandalously uncanny valleys, the many muddily mediated human-machine thought experiments, and scurrilous bids for grants and investor capital to uncover the dark heart of artificial intelligence: namely, the everyday ordinary ways that ‘banal deception’ is integrated into our lives. In so doing, Deceitful Media offers pressingly ethical, sober, and sophisticated pathways to reclaiming the unnatural ordinariness of the human psyche in the shadow of artificial intelligence. Highly readable and deeply instructive.” – Benjamin Peters, University of Tulsa

About the speakers

Veronica Barassi is an anthropologist, and Professor in Media and Communication Studies in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of St. Gallen, as well as the Chair of Media and Culture in the Institute of Media and Communication Management. She is the author of Activism on the Web: Everyday Struggles against Digital Capitalism (Routledge, 2015), Child | Data | Citizen: How Tech Companies are Profiling Us from before Birth MIT Press, 2020, and I Figli dell’Algoritmo: Sorvegliati, Tracciati e Profilati dalla Nascita LUISS University Press 2021. She directs different project on data inequality, AI and algorithmic profiling. Recently she launched The Human Error Project: AI, Human Nature and the Conflict over Algorithmic Profiling.

Paolo Bory is a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at the Politecnico di Milano, Department of Design. His research focuses on the history, narratives, and imaginaries of computer networks, supercomputing, and Al. Paolo is part of the steering committee of the research unit “Social Sciences and Humanities for Science and Technology” (META – Politecnico di Milano), he is also member of the AICA working group on the history of informatics.

N. Katherine Hayles, the James B. Duke Professor of Literature Emerita at Duke University and Distinguished Research Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles, teaches and writes on the relations of literature, science and technology in the 20th and 21st centuries. She has published ten books and over 100 peer-reviewed articles, and she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her most recent book is Postprint: Books and Becoming Computational (Columbia University Press).

Christian Katzenbach is a Professor of Media and Communication at the University of Bremen and Head of the Lab “Platform Governance, Media, and Technology”. In various international projects, he investigates the formation of platforms and their governance, the discursive and political shaping of “Artificial Intelligence” (AI) and the increasing automation of communication. Christian is an associated researcher at the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) where he was a founding member.

Simone Natale is Associate Professor in media theory and history at the University of Turin, Italy, and Assistant Editor of Media, Culture and Society. He is the author of two monographs, Deceitful Media: Artificial Intelligence and Social Life after the Turing Test (Oxford University Press, 2021) and Supernatural Entertainments: Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture (Penn State University Press, 2016), as well as over 30 articles in journals including the Journal of Communication, New Media and Society, Communication Theory, Communication Theory, and Media, Culture and Society.