AI and Data Science in Fiction and Society (HWS 2023)

The aim of this seminar is to reflect on how AI and data science influence the world we live in. We will discuss fictional works (i.e., novels) and analyze which developments are described therein and how realistic we deem them.


In this seminar, you will read and analyze a fictional work (i.e., novel) of your choice, and identify parallels between (a) AI technology described in fiction and actual technological developments, and (b) interactions between technology and society. In particular, we will discuss the societal and ethical impact of AI on modern societies.

Each participant will read a fictional work, present it to the seminar participants, and participate in the discussions. Each presentation is accompanied by a seminar paper, which will undergo a peer review process. Note that you are supposed to also read the novels for which you are peer reviewing the reports, which makes for a total reading workload of several novels throughout the semester. Presentations are supposed to be about 25 minutes long.


This seminar is organized by Prof. Dr. Heiko Paulheim

Available for master students in Business Informatics and MMDS (2 SWS, 4 ECTS)

Prerequisites: none


The seminar takes places on a few Thursday afternoons in HWS 2023. Timeline:

  • Kick off meeting: Thursday, September 14th, 13:45–15:15, room C 301 (B 6, 27–29, building part C).
  • Presentation and discussion sessions (Thursdays, 13:45–17:00), room C 301 (B 6, 27–29, building part C).
    • November 16th
    • November 23rd
    • November 30th
    • December 7th


  • Send your topic preferences by the end of Sunday, September 17th
  • Get your topic assigned by Tuesday, September 19th
  • October 29th: Deadline for seminar report drafts
  • November 5th: Deadline for peer review on seminar report drafts
  • January 14th: Deadline for final seminar papers
  • Registration

    • Registration will be available in Portal2
    • After getting a confirmation from Portal2, please send a ranked list of three works you would like to read and present in the seminar to Bianca Lermer
    • Final assignment of topics will be made after the kick off meeting
  • Possible Topics

    (Note: you are kindly invited to propose other works as well)

    AuthorTitle (en)Title (de)
    Max BarryMachine ManMaschinenmann
    Max BarryProvidenceProvidence
    Andreas Brandhorst--Das Erwachen
    Philip K. DickDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?Träumen Androiden von elektrischen Schafen?
    Cory DoctorowLittle BrotherLittle Brother
    Cory DoctorowWalkawayWalkaway
    Dave EggersThe CircleDer Circle
    Dave EggersThe EveryEvery
    Marc ElsbergCode ZeroZERO
    Andreas EschbachLord of all ThingsHerr aller Dinge
    Andreas Eschbach--NSA – Nationales Sicherheitsamt
    Louise HallSpeak--
    Theresa Hannig--Die Optimierer
    Robert HarrisThe Fear IndexAngst
    Tom HillenbrandDrone StateDrohnenland
    Tom Hillenbrand--Hologrammatica
    Marc-Uwe Kling--Quality Land
    John MarrsThe PassengersThe Passengers
    Stephan Meier--Now
    Bijan Moini--Der Würfel
    Karl Olsberg--Das System
    Karl Olsberg--Mirror
    Kim Stanley RobinsonAuroraAurora
    Daniel SuarezKill DecisionKill Decision
    Daniel SuarezDaemonDaemon
    Adrian TchaikovskyDogs of WarIm Krieg
    Martha WellsThe Murderbot DiariesTagebuch eines Killerbots
    M.G. WheatonEmily EternalEmily Eternal
    Juli ZehThe MethodCorpus Delicti
  • Additional Literature

    (You may use those as background material, but you are kindly asked to conduct some further literature research yourself)


    • Nick Bostrom. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. 2014
    • James Hendler, Alice M. Mulvehill. Social Machines: The Coming Collision of Artificial Intelligence, Social Networking, and Humanity. 2018


    • Giorgio Buttazzo: Artificial Consciousness: Utopia or Real Possibility?, 2001
    • Bruce G. Buchanan: A (Very) Brief History of Artificial Intelligence, 2005
    • Colin Allen et al.: Why Machine Ethics?, 2006
    • Yudkowsky, Elizier: Artificial Intelligence as a Positive and Negative Factor in Global Risk, 2008
    • Ethan Fast and Eric Horvitz: Long-Term Trends in the Public Perception of Artificial Intelligence, 2016

    Other Documents:

    • Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI by the European Commission