“New York Prophecies: The Imaginary Future of Artificial Intelligence” presented by Barbrook


Session Title:

  • Imagining Cities and Public Spaces

Presentation Title:

  • New York Prophecies: The Imaginary Future of Artificial Intelligence



  • This article is examines the imaginary future presented by the IBM pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, especially its promotion of the ‘artificial intelligence’. As well as comparing this SF dream with other exhibitors’ fantasies about unmetered electricity from nuclear power stations and holidays on the moon using space rockets, the article also draws parallels between the 1964 New York World’s Fair with the ideological themes of its predecessors from the 1851 London Great Exhibition onwards.

    Inspired by Eric Hobsbawm’s concept of ‘invented traditions’, this article argues that imaginary futures are also a method of sanctifying the transient socio-economic relationships of the present by disguising them as products of another historical moment.

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