What can science fiction tell us about the future of artificial intelligence policy?

Andrew Dana Hudson, Ed Finn, Ruth Wylie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This paper addresses the gap between familiar popular narratives describing Artificial Intelligence (AI), such as the trope of the killer robot, and the realistic near-future implications of machine intelligence and automation for technology policy and society. The authors conducted a series of interviews with technologists, science fiction writers, and other experts, as well as a workshop, to identify a set of key themes relevant to the near future of AI. In parallel, they led the analysis of almost 100 recent works of science fiction stories with AI themes to develop a preliminary taxonomy of AI in science fiction. These activities informed the commissioning of six original works of science fiction and non-fiction response essays on the themes of “intelligence” and “justice” that were published as part of the Slate Future Tense Fiction series in 2019 and 2020. Our findings indicate that artificial intelligence remains deeply ambiguous both in the policy and cultural contexts: we struggle to define the boundaries and the agency of machine intelligence, and consequently find it difficult to govern or interact with such systems. However, our findings also suggest more productive avenues of inquiry and framing that could foster both better policy and better narratives around AI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-211
Number of pages15
JournalAI and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Futures
  • Policy futures
  • Science fiction
  • Technology policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Artificial Intelligence


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