Nina BeguS

Hello!

My name is Nina Beguš, and I'm a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society at the University of California, Berkeley. I also teach the History of Information course at the School of Information.

I lead the Artificial Humanities Group where we focus on the intersection of humanities and AI across three research areas: cultural imaginary and social bias, narratology and writing creativity, and philosophy of science and technology.

Books

My first book, titled Artificial Humanities: A Fictional Perspective on Language in AI, is currently under an advance contract with the University of Michigan Press. The book presents my research program on how the study of fiction and the humanities can contribute to the development of technologies. It focuses on the history and future of AI-based language technologies - ranging from chatbots, virtual assistants, social robots, to neurotech and large language models - and draws parallels with both canonical and lesser-known science fiction texts and films. 

My second book, in initial stages, lies at the intersection of bioethics and fiction. An example of this research is my essay titled 'The Identity Problem' in Prenatal Testing, which won the Voices in Bioethics award.

I am serving as the editor of a volume that features essays by professional writers and scholars on how the entry of AI into this space has changed writing as such. I am also serving as the editor of a volume of academic papers on post-truth, a result of recent symposia held at UC Berkeley (in initial stages).

Consulting and Collaborations

I am the founder of InterpretAI, a consulting and product development company with a focus on understanding and interpretability of AI.

I have recently organized a symposium on Understanding AI through UC Berkeley's Social Science Matrix, aimed at bringing together research on interpretability from academia, industry, and think tanks.

As a Senior Researcher at Transformations of the Human (ToftH and the Berggruen Institute), I helped to implement a novel method of process-based consulting for startups (CSM) and big tech companies (Google, Meta, Microsoft). The ToftH School was established to train students in this type of collaborative concept work, as well as a venue for technologists to reconsider their work within the humanities framework.

I'm collaborating with Eoin Brodie's lab at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Our work is centered around a planetary perspective on information transfer, grounded in thermodynamics and the Earth system science approach.

Research and Summer Programs

My comparative literature dissertation from Harvard University, titled Artificial Humanities: A Literary Perspective on Creating and Enhancing Humans from Pygmalion to Cyborgs, explores how literary works inform us about current and emerging ethical and philosophical issues posed by new technologies, particularly artificial intelligence and biomedical engineering. 

I also write on Central European and Balkan (post)modernism (narratology, the Habsburg myth) and the ancient Silk Road (the Jataka tales).

My work with these projects ranges from co-organizing and teaching summer programs on islands, boundaries, and conflict (Harvard, in Croatia) and AI, language, and ethics (University of Washington, in Slovenia), to conducting computational experiments with large language models and behavioral experiments on the MTurk platform through the Harvard Mind, Brain and Behavior Initiative (you can hear more about it in this interview or read the preprint paper).

Media Coverage

2024:
- interview for the newspaper Delo (Slovenian).
- interview for Outsider magazine (Slovenian).
- Artificial Humanities featured in Scientific American (English).
- the New Books Network podcast by Latent Knowledge (English).
- interview for El NorMal magazine (Slovenian).
- podcast interview on Embeddings (English).

2023:
- 96 Layers podcast, also in text (English).
- book featured in Scientific American (summarized by a few other outlets in English and Slovenian).
- featured in a Korean documentary on AI (part 1 and 2) (English/Korean).

2022:
- interview for the Napkin Poetry Review (English). Responses can be found on art.culture.digital (English) and Gledališče Glej (Slovenian).
- interview for the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia (English).

2021:
- interview for the research podcast, Metina Lista (Slovenian).
- and national radio station, Val 202 (Slovenian).

Residential Life

I've been involved in college residential life since 2013, initially as a Graduate Commons community advisor and a resident tutor in Mather House. I currently live in Bowles Hall, the oldest residential college in the U.S. (est. 1928).

Connect

I update this site regularly and would be happy to connect via email or social media. 

Feel free to contact me through ASEF or Društvo VTIS, where I serve as a mentor for Slovenians educated abroad.