Joe Yizhou Xu deposited Programmatic Dreams: Technographic Inquiry into Censorship of Chinese Chatbots in the group Digital Humanities East Asia on Humanities Commons 2 years, 8 months ago
This project explores the recent censorship of two Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots on Tencent’s popular WeChat messaging platform. Specifically, I am advancing a technographic approach in ways that give agency to bots as not just computing units but as interlocutors and informants. I seek to understand these chatbots through their intended design—by chatting with them. I argue that this methodological inquiry of chatbots can potentially points to fissures and deficiencies within the Chinese censorship machine that allows for spaces of subversion. AI chatbot development China presents a rich site of study because it embodies the extremes of surveillance and censorship. This is all the more important as China have elevated disruptive technologies like AI and big data as critical part of state security and a key component to fulfilling the “Chinese Dream of National Rejuvenation.” Whether it is the implementation of a national “social credit” system or the ubiquitous use facial recognition systems, much of Western fears about data security and state control have been already realized in China. Yet, this also implies China is at the frontlines of potential points of resistance and fissures against the party–state–corporate machine. In doing so, I not only seek to raise questions dealing with the limits of our humanity in the light of our AI-driven futures but also present methodological concerns related to human–machine interfacing in conceptualizing new modes of resistance.