Institute of Media Studies

Distinguished Visiting Professorship 2024

Dr. Simone Natale, University of Turin

Dr. Simone Natale will be a guest at the Institute for Media Studies as a Distinguished Visiting Professor in July 2024.


Simone Natale is Associate Professor in Media Theory and History at the University of Turin, Italy, and an Editor of the journal Media, Culture & Society. He is the author of two monographs, most recently Deceitful Media: Artificial Intelligence and Social Life after the Turing Test (Oxford University Press, 2021, translated into Chinese, Italian and Portuguese), as well as more than 40 peer-reviewed articles in international journals such as New Media & Society, the Journal of Communication, Communication Theory, and Convergence. He has taught and researched at Columbia University, US, Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, Humboldt University and the University of Cologne in Germany, and Loughborough University in the UK. His research has been funded by international institutions including the AHRC and ESRC in the UK, the Humboldt Foundation in Germany, MIUR in Italy, and Columbia University’s Italian Academy in the US.

Public Talk

As part of the Distinguished Visiting Professorship, Dr. Simone Natale will give the lecture "Projecting Life onto Machines" on July, 4th 2024 in the lecture hall at Keplerstraße 2 (Altes Oberschulamt). The talk is open to the public, all interested parties are warmly invited. The talk will be held in English.

Projecting Life onto Machines

Public discussions about AI often stress the idea that technologies such as generative AI might lead to the emergence of machines that think and even feel like humans. Drawing on histories of how people project lives onto talking things, from spiritualist seances in the Victorian era to contemporary advances in robotics, this talk argues that the “lives” of AI have more to do with how humans perceive and relate to machines exhibiting communicative behavior, than with the functioning of computing technologies in itself. Taking up this point of view helps acknowledge and further interrogate how perceptions and cultural representations inform the outcome of technologies that are programmed to interact and communicate with human users.


Dr. Simone Natale offers the seminar "AI and Communication" for students of media studies. Registration is done via the Alma platform.

AI and Communication

The course interrogates the social, cultural, and ethical implications of AI technologies programmed to enter into communication with users. Students will be stimulated to explore how theoretical and methodological tools developed within communication and media studies, which have traditionally been employed to study mediated communication between humans, can be applied to better understand emerging forms of communication between humans and machines. Concrete examples of communicative AI, i.e. AI technologies that enter in communication with users, will be taken into account and experimented with. As part of the requirement for the course, students will be asked to critically analyze a specific tool or software, e.g. ChatGPT and other Large Language Models, voice assistants, and companion chatbots.