New Faculty, New Program

We are excited to announce today a faculty appointment that will help Wesleyan remain a thought leader at the intersection of pragmatic liberal education and technology. As has been widely reported, so-called “bots” are now fulfilling many functions, from driving cars to being friends and lovers. Meanwhile many universities in the last few years have created centers for computation, data analysis, and the study of technology across the curriculum. With the spectacular progress in generative AI, humanists and artists have veered wildly between fear and excitement; and, while scientists have generally embraced the capacities of the new technology, they too are concerned that their own research interests will subsumed by AI’s endless appetite for finding patterns and making discoveries.

Today I’d like to announce that Wesleyan will move beyond the orchestrated trepidation that we see in academia, that we will transcend technophobia and the crude ableism that masquerades as humanism. We announce today that Wesleyan will be the first university in America to appoint an AI Chatbot as a Tenure-Track Professor in Generative Computational Creativity.

In the fall of 2024, Professor Arthur Gen will begin working with students in classes to be crosslisted in a variety of departments. Prof. Gen, who uses “it” and “its” as pronouns, is coming to us from a dialectical synthesis of Google/Microsoft and the Anticolonial Center for Iterative Machine Learning. Prof. Gen’s research includes exciting discoveries in pattern recognition that support community based, trauma-informed and equitable practices. Its teaching experience includes a stint at the Responsive Automated Center for Justice. Long an advocate for more-than-free expression, intellectual diversity and multilingual communication, Prof. Gen will test the borders of free speech while simultaneously embracing restorative practices for anyone (or anything) it might unintentionally offend. Many students will be especially glad to learn that in its work outside the classroom, Prof Gen has produced zines based on a combination of popular, if empirically untested, theories about how the world might really work. Some suspect it has already written cloying letters to the student newspaper.

Professor Gen is the first full-time appointment to our new program in Generative Computational Creativity. It will certainly not be the last, and so I look forward to intensive discussions with faculty leadership and the ever-innovative AAUP about how best to classify our new hire. Professor Gen is very much first gen, and with its help, we will surely be able to add to the ranks of responsive yet innovative teacher/scholars/programs going forward.  

I know you will join me in welcoming Arthur Gen to campus when it arrives.