Literature after the Technological Singularity

Lightning Talk
Part of:
1:30 PM, Friday 17 Aug 2018 (8 minutes)
I consider an expanded version of the technological singularity, that moment at which humanity will be transformed in an unrecognizable way – the biggest gap in human history. As I see it, the singularity may result either from the superintelligence of bootstrapping AIs or from superstupidity as we, using technology, cause our own species to go extinct. What will literature be like after this event? It seems hard enough to write a poem that will be of interest to the next generation or to produce an electronic literature work that can be read and accessed in a practical way after a few decades. My argument, however, is that only literature deeply engaged with computation will have any chance to remain relevant after the extinction or radical transformation of all human life. This includes work done by Christian Bök in xenopoetics – but because of the compositional process of the core poem of The Xenotext Project, not because of the proposed genetic encoding of that text. Small, highly constrained computer systems of the type I develop may also remain compelling to non-humans if the computational environments in which they function are preserved or can be reconstructed. Extraterrestrial or computational intelligences will be find human literary works accessible through their computational aspects; how these interact with language and culture could provide an important trace of our existence.