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Frankenstein: a creation of artificial intelligence?


Throughout Mary Shelley’s early life, she was exposed to numerous well-known and influential people regarding cultural, political, and socio-economic matters. As she began writing, these influences undoubtedly played a role in her narrative. Her novel, Frankenstein, written during the time of the first Industrial Revolution in Britain, was one such novel that exhibited her political and economic influences through science fiction. This article addresses many of those influences, including the introduction of the machine into manufacturing. It further addresses how Frankenstein’s Monster may have been one of the first created forms of artificial intelligence (AI). We further expound upon many economic concepts that have persisted through time and are relevant today given the faciliatory aspects, as well as the uncertainty, of AI. We relate these through the literary piece Frankenstein to explore how a two-century-year-old tale provides a blueprint for understanding the conflict among humans and machines and provides a roadmap for harmonization in the past, present, and future.

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  1. 1.

    This novel is actually a re-written account of her journal entries from July 28—September 13,1814 (Shelley 1947, p. 3 footnote).

  2. 2.

    Caleb Williams was written in narrative form as a way for Godwin to espouse his ideas from Political Justice (St. Clair, 1989, p. 437).

  3. 3.

    This can be easily ascertained by noting the works she read in her journal.

  4. 4.

    As Linebaugh (2012) points out and Pallas (2018) further expounds, Queen Mab was influenced by the writings of the Luddites giving further evidence to the influences on Mary Shelley.

  5. 5.

    Interestingly, in the same letter, Mary mentions to Hunt “…except that you can silence me by not reading me…” as to intimate that she is not one for open discourse, but prefers to tell others of her politics through her writing.

  6. 6.

    Though, depending on one’s take of creative destruction, Victor may be the story’s main antagonist.

  7. 7.

    The Statutes of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 22 p. 633.

  8. 8.

    Though, it should be noted, Jones (2006, p. 119) argues Victor Frankenstein is better represented as a Post-Modern Neo-Luddite as opposed to the historical Luddite as would have been viewed by Shelley. Furthermore, Jones argues that a there is no “clear representation of Luddism in the book.” (2006, p. 120).

  9. 9.

    For example, see the highly cited Frey and Osborne (2017) article. Also, see Ford (2015) as he views automation as a way to make the economy less labor-intensive and how it will shape new industries at the outset. However, Arnt et al. (2016) point out, in a comparative look of OECD countries, that countries have different shares of jobs susceptible to automation and that this is further reduced by looking at task-content of jobs.


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Correspondence to Jennings Byrd.

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Byrd, J., Paquette, P. Frankenstein: a creation of artificial intelligence?. AI & Soc (2021).

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  • Frankenstein
  • Technology
  • Luddite
  • Progress
  • Automation
  • Artificial intelligence (AI)