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, where I also serve on the Executive Committee. In 2024, I will be joining the UC Berkeley School of Information and will be teaching the History of Information course.
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.
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, 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.
Consulting and Collaborations
I am the founder of InterpretAI, a consulting and product development company with a focus on understanding and interpretability of AI.
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 entropy 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).
In 2023, I was interviewed for the 96 Layers podcast (text).
I discussed the cultural imaginary that affects our interactions with AI for Scientific American. It was summarized by a few other outlets, also in the Slovenian language.
I explained generative AI challenges and regulation for a South Korean documentary by Yonhap News.
In 2022, I was interviewed about the philosopical implications of large language models for the Napkin Poetry Review. Reponses can be found on art.culture.digital (English) and Gledališče Glej (Slovenian).
I shared my views on AI technology in business for the annual publication of the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia.
In Slovenian, I was interviewed about my work for the research podcast, Metina Lista.
I also discussed my life in the U.S. for the national radio station, Val 202.
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).
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.