My name is Nina Beguš [Begush or Begus, both work!], and I'm a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society at the University of California, Berkeley, where I also serve on the Executive Committee. In 2024, I will be joining the UC Berkeley School of Information.
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 chabots, 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, centers on assisted reproductive technologies. An example of my bioethics research is an essay titled 'The Identity Problem' in Prenatal Testing, which won the Voices in Bioethics award.
Consulting and Collaborations
I am the founder of InterpretAI, a consulting and product development company with a focus on interpretability of AI.
As a Senior Researcher at Transformations of the Human (ToftH), I helped to implement a novel method of process-based consulting for startups and large tech companies. In addition to tech consulting, I have collaborated with Eoin Brodie's biogeochemistry and earth system science lab at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Our focus there is on a planetary approach to science and technology.
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.
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 islandology, boundaries, and conflict (Harvard, in Croatia) and AI, language, and ethics (University of Washington, in Slovenia), to conducting behavioral experiments on the MTurk platform through the Harvard Mind, Brain and Behavior Initiative (you can hear more about it in this interview).
In English, I've given an interview on the philosopical implications of large language models for the Napkin Poetry Review, and an another interview about my views on AI technology in business for the yearly publicatation of the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia.
In Slovenian, I've been interviewed about my work for the research podcast, Metina Lista, and have discussed my life in the U.S. for a national radio station, Val 202.
I've been involved in college residential life since 2014, initially as a resident tutor in Mather House. I currently live in Bowles Hall, the oldest residential college in the U.S. (est. 1928).
My Harvard website was relegated to the digital graveyard in 2020 upon my graduation. I regularly update this current site and would be happy to connect via email or social media.