International Conference on (Art)ificial Intelligence and the Problems of Language, Thinking, and Writing: Interrogations to Jacques Derrida.
The first English translation of Jacques Derrida’s La Voix et le Phénomène (1967) translated as Speech and Phenomena: And Other Essays on Husserl's Theory of Signs is completing its 50th anniversary in 2023. This is “an event, perhaps” (Salmon, 2020). This book was translated again in 2011, this time with the title Voice and Phenomenon: Introduction to the Problem of the Sign in Husserl’s Phenomenology. Derrida’s views on translation “as transaction and as transfer” (2001) is too well known not to think of this series of translation events as, at least, “dubious”. We are using “dubious” of course to underline the fact that this International Conference which is being organized to commemorate Speech and Phenomena may not be celebrating the “original” book let alone celebrating Voice and Phenomena. Therefore, the question of authenticity and originality is, not putting too fine a point on it, an aporia. We use this aporia of original, translation, and multiple productivity of texts to investigate and contribute to the contemporary debates on artificial intelligence, machine learning, writing, ChatGPT, and several other concerns emerging from the current time of the “algorithmic self” (Pasquale, 2015). This investigation is through interrogations of Jacques Derrida and the series of “events” that his three books of 1967 helped initiate: De la grammatologie translated into English as Of Grammatology (1976); L'écriture et la difference translated into English as Writing and Difference (1978) apart from Speech and Phenomena this conference is celebrating.
We are using “interrogation”, fittingly to the aims of the conference, in the way Oxford’s A Dictionary of Computing (2008) defines the term. Interrogation in this sense is “the sending of a signal that will initiate a response. A system may interrogate a peripheral to see if it requires a data transfer. The response is normally a status byte. When a number of devices are interrogated in a sequence the process is called polling.” This International Conference, therefore, is in a way sending “signals” to Derrida and the texts associated to that proper name, especially Speech and Phenomena. We want to investigate if these texts signal back and to what extent on the questions of language, thinking, and writing that first animated Derrida and which now need a serious revisit, reformulation, and reconsiderations.
With the advances being made in AI and computing, we need a better understanding of how these technologies are changing (or not changing) how we understand language, thinking, and writing. This seems to be one of the urgent tasks of philosophy and theory. The optimism of Hilary Putnam (1995) that “AI has so far spun off a good deal that is of real interest to computer science in general, but nothing that sheds any real light on the mind” (392) to the Chinese Room Argument by John Searle (1980) where he claims that “no program is sufficient for intentionality” (424) have tried to wrest some ground of thinking from computation and algorithm but the field remains highly contested and contentious. Works such as Alien Phenomenology (2012) among many others have shown interesting ways in which interactions and thinking may happen within and between objects. Similarly, with natural language processing (NLP) which enables a predictive model of writing generating signifiers based on big data and algorithm the very notion of “writing” is perhaps undergoing a radical change. If we take Derrida’s claim that “writing thus comprehends language” (1976, 7) it is now an urgent task to see if probabilistic writing is or is not transforming the concept of writing all over again. Derrida’s task of revealing the ethnocentrism that controlled the concept of writing which was seen as “phoneticization of writing” (3) needs to be taken up in the light of the promises and ambitions of “predictive writing.” If Derrida indeed deconstructed the logocentric nature of ethnocentric writing, does predictive writing “liberate” us finally from the stranglehold of the logos? Is algorithmic also logocentric or is it not? There are suggestions that it may just be the case and that what Derrida and others were theorizing about language and writing may have ultimately been triumphant (Underwood, 2023). This conference will think about these questions deeply and hopefully will result in certain insights which give us newer ways of conceptualizing thinking, language, and writing.
This International Conference invites paper submissions from scientists, media scholars, philosophers, literary scholars, Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholars, historians, anthropologists, practitioners, professionals, and others. The papers can have varied perspectives and aims. They can be exploratory and speculative and could also be based on empirical studies or lab results. The only requirement is that the papers should be in conversation (or as we mentioned above, in the nature of “interrogation”) with the range of concepts used by Jacques Derrida that pertains to language, thinking, and writing. The topics include but are not limited to:
- Deconstruction and AI
- Derrida and Ethics of Language and AI
- Derrida and Digital Humanities
- Derrida, Politics, and Social Media
- Derrida and AI generated Digital Selfs and Cultures
- Conversational AI and the Presence of Speech
- Trace in the Digital
Please send an abstract (500-750 words) with 3-5 keywords to email@example.com .
Avirup Ghosh, Panihati Mahavidyalaya, Kolkata, India.
Mithilesh Kumar, CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bangalore, India.
Namitha Shivani Iyer, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.
Abstracts will be selected through a double-blind review process. Papers presented at the conference will be published as a special issue in Tattva Journal of Philosophy (UGC-CARE Listed Journal. Group I, Arts and Humanities)
Important Dates and Fees:
- Deadline for submission of abstracts: September 30, 2023.
- Notification of selected abstracts: October 10, 2023
- Registration link: October 15, 2023.
- Deadline for registration: December 01, 2023.
Registration fee: Paper presenters (India)- INR 5,000
Paper Presenters (International)- US $75
Participation- INR 1,000 (India)/US $15 (International)
Bogost, Ian. Alien Phenomenology, or, What It’s like to Be a Thing. University of Minnesota Press, 2012.
Daintith, John, et al., editors. A Dictionary of Computing. 6th ed, Oxford University Press, 2008.
Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.
---. Speech and Phenomena, and Other Essays on Husserl’s Theory of Signs. Northwestern University Press, 1973.
---. Writing and Difference. University of Chicago Press, 1978.
---. Voice and Phenomenon: Introduction to the Problem of the Sign in Husserl’s Phenomenology. Northwestern University Press, 2011.
---. “What Is a ‘Relevant’ Translation?” Critical Inquiry, vol. 27, no. 2, Jan. 2001, pp. 174–200. DOI.org (Crossref), https://doi.org/10.1086/449005.
Pasquale, Frank. “The Algorithmic Self.” The Hedgehog Review, https://hedgehogreview.com/issues/too-much-information/articles/the-algorithmic-self. Accessed 7 Aug. 2023.
Putnam, Hilary, and James Conant. Words and Life. Harvard University Press, 1994.
Salmon, Peter. An Event, Perhaps: A Biography of Jacques Derrida. Verso, 2020.
Searle, John R. “Minds, Brains, and Programs.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 3, no. 3, Sept. 1980, pp. 417–24. DOI.org (Crossref), https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X00005756.