Artificial Companionship: Human/AI Relationships in Film & Literature

As AI becomes more human like and increasingly present in our day to day life, we are approaching a point where the real life dynamics between AIs and humans begin to imitate the fictional dynamics between AIs and humans. Society has crossed the uncanny valley, and we are nearly submitting the peak of producing AIs that pass the Turing test. The representation of AIs in science fiction are increasingly relevant, as these depictions are becoming increasingly plausible.

This course will focus on the portrayal of loving relationships between AIs and humans in film and literature. Several variations of love will be examined: romantic, platonic, and familial. While examining these relationships, we will focus on how human power conflicts with robot autonomy, desire, and consent. We will unpack some of the most well-founded theories about the future of AI in our society – the foreboding, and the Utopian. In this course you will be constantly challenged to reevaluate what differentiates human intelligence from artificial intelligence.

This is a critical analysis course. The major assignments focus on research and writing. For the final assignment students will have the option to write a non-fiction critical analysis paper, a well informed fictional short story, or a video essay.

Viewings include:
Her, Spike Jonze
Ex Machina, Alex Garland
A.I., Steven Spielberg
Readings include:
Machines Like Me, Ian McEwan
Neuromancer, William Gibson
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Phillip K. Dick
Full syllabus requests can be sent to

Featured image from Ex Machina directed by Alex Garland