Photo credit: Anna Logue

AI and Data Science in Fiction and Society (HWS 2019)

Important: you are looking at the Web page of the seminar conducted in 2019. Web page for the latest offering can be found here.

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 2019:

  • Kick off meeting: Monday, September 16th, 15:15-17:00  room B6,  A 204 (Slides)
  • Presentations on November 7th/14th/21st/28th, 13:45-17:00 room B6, A 302


  • Send your topic preferences by the end of Monday, 16th
  • Get your topic assigned by Tuesday, 17th
  • October 13th: Deadline for seminar report drafts
  • October 27th: Deadline for peer review on seminar report drafts
  • December 22nd: Deadline for final seminar papers

Schedule for Presentations:

  • November 7th: AI in Business
    • The Circle (Dave Eggers)
    • Quality Land (Marc-Uwe Kling)
    • The Fear Index (Robert Harris)
  • November 14th: Androids and Humans
    • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Philip K. Dick)
    • Walkaway (Cory Doctorow)
  • November 21st: AI in Surveillance and Military
    • Little Brother (Cory Doctorow)
    • Daemon (Daniel Suarez)
    • Drone State (Tom Hillenbrand)
  • November 28th: Relation of AIs and Humans
    • Aurora (Kim Stanley Robinson)
    • Das Erwachen (Andreas Brandhorst)
  • 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 in the kick off meeting
  • Possible Topics

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

    Author Title (en) Title (de)
    Andreas Brandhorst -- Das Erwachen
    Philip K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Träumen Androiden von elektrischen Schafen?
    Cory Doctorow Little Brother Little Brother
    Cory Doctorow Walkaway Walkaway
    Dave Eggers The Circle Der Circle
    Marc Elsberg Code Zero ZERO
    Andreas Eschbach Lord of all Things Herr aller Dinge
    Andreas Eschbach -- NSA - Nationales Sicherheitsamt
    Robert Harris The Fear Index Angst
    Tom Hillenbrand Drone State Drohnenland
    Tom Hillenbrand -- Hologrammatica
    Marc-Uwe Kling -- Quality Land
    Stephan Meier -- Now
    Karl Olsberg -- Das System
    Karl Olsberg -- Mirror
    Kim Stanley Robinson Aurora Aurora
    Daniel Suarez Kill Decision Kill Decision
    Daniel Suarez Daemon Daemon
    Juli Zeh The Method Corpus Delicti
  • Additional Lecture

    (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