Understanding and Deploying the Basics of Generative A.I.

DHSI-EAST:  Monday, April 29 to Thursday, May 2 2024

Register for Workshop

Join us in person Monday, April 29 to Thursday, May 2 2024, at St Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia for DHSI-East. Hosted by St. Francis Xavier University's Digital Humanities Centre. Faculty, staff, students, and all interested welcome.

Workshop: "Understanding and Deploying the Basics of Generative A.I."

Aaron Tucker, University of Toronto
with Meghan Landry, ACENET, Adnane Ait-Nasser, ACENET

This four-day workshop (9AM-4PM) will outline the basics of contemporary machine learning to illustrate how Generative A.I., such as the text-based ChatGPT and the image-based DALL-E operate. This accessible technical description will be combined with critical readings from science and technology studies, critical digital studies, media studies, and digital humanities that interrogate A.I. from critical race, post-colonial, and feminist perspectives. This knowledge is not necessarily intended to make participants “experts” on the topics, but rather have scholars reflect on how such technologies can add further depth to their own research and provide them vocabulary and expertise to be able to collaborate with scholars who specialize in the technical elements of A.I. At the end of the workshop participants will synthesize these demonstrations and readings, alongside class discussions, and produce the outline for a future research paper and/or research creation project involving machine learning and/or Generative A.I.; instructors will provide one-on-one feedback and trouble-shooting on these projects over the four days.


Mecha is not Orga: The Fiction of AI and the AI Industry


This talk considers the fictional roots of recent claims of AI as an existential risk that have been making headline news. Dating back to Alan Turing, literal readings of fiction, including the threat of superintelligent machines taking control of the world, have long shaped the AI industry. With no basis in science, I argue that this irrational anxiety serves not only as a distraction but as an unconscious defense as it substitutes a new object, autonomous machines, in place of one that cannot be acknowledged, the environmental and societal damage caused by a resource-intensive industry heavily invested in a mechanistic worldview that treats nature, including humans, as a lucrative commodity. The second part of the talk, traces two of Stanley Kubrick’s film projects and their shifting understanding of this technology. If 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) takes seriously intelligent enigmatic evolving machines, A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) recounts a dark corporate fairy tale about the production of mechanical androids (mecha) that persists despite the climate crisis.

Speaker: Teresa Heffernan

Teresa Heffernan is Professor of English Language and Literature at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, NS, where she teaches courses in literary theory, critical posthumanism, feminist theory, and the novel. Her current area of research is on how the field of robotics and artificial intelligence is shaped by fiction. She has been awarded a Visiting Public Humanities Faculty Fellowship at the Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto (January 2024). She has also been a visiting Fellow at CAPAS, University of Heidelberg (2022-23), and a Visiting Professor at the AI Lab, Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto (2019-20). Her books include: the edited collection Cyborg Futures: Cross-disciplinary Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Palgrave (2019); Veiled Figures: Women, Modernity, and the Spectres of Orientalism (2016); and Post-Apocalyptic Culture: Modernism, Postmodernism, and the Twentieth-Century Novel (2008/2011). Her articles have appeared in journals such as AI and Society, Studies in the Novel, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Arab Journal for the Humanities, Subject Matters, Canadian Literature, Twentieth Century Literature, and English Studies in Africa. She runs the website: https://socialrobotfutures.com

Ticket prices

$550 - full rate, early registration*
$650 - full rate, regular registration
$250 - students and other low-waged, early registration*
$350 - students and other low-waged, regular registration

*Early Registration Deadline EXTENDED: April 1st, 2024, 11:59pm AT

Register for Workshop

Staying in Antigonish

Please visit the Visit Antigonish website to see a list of all Accommodation in the area.


DHSI-East is part of the international DH Training Network and takes its name from DHSI, the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (University of Victoria). DHSI-East is supported by funding from the Canada Research Chairs program.

The DHSI-East organizing team is Laura Estill (English, StFX), Richard Cunningham (Acadia University), Margaret Vail (StFX Library), and Meghan Landry (ACENET).

For information on past DHSI-East training events, see our archive page.