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Artificial Intelligence Examined at Digital Humanities Utah Symposium

The term digital humanities (DH) can best be understood as an interdisciplinary field involving a wide range of researcherseveryone from historians, to designers and artists, to computer scientists and beyond. The ultimate goal is to fluidly employ data to enhance projects and aid in teaching and researching.

On Feb. 23 and 24 the Digital Humanities Utah Symposium was held at the Marriott Library, attracting more than 100 scholars from universities across the Intermountain West and beyond. They came to share their research, network and learn about emerging digital humanities tools and practices. Digital Humanities Utah, as a partnership among seven of Utah’s largest universities now in its eighth year, is actively situating Utah as a hub of DH innovation and output.

“Digital Humanities methods are always evolving as new technologies emerge and opportunities to work with traditional humanistic materials in unconventional and creative ways emerge,” explains Kaylee Alexander, research data librarian at the Marriott Library and chair of this year’s symposium. “DH is collaborative at its core, so bringing together scholars from across the state of Utah and beyond to exchange ideas and share experiences provides scholars at all levels an occasion to experiment and expand their thinking and research.”

Workshops ranged from topics around the ethics of artificial intelligence to computational poetry, to mapping projects and illuminating Black student experiences at the U. Mark Sample, Chair and Professor of Digital Studies at Davison College, gave his keynote entitled “Almost AI: The Pleasure and Poetics of Staying Human in an Age of Machines.” Dr. Sample’s talk addressed his creative practice “as a response—if not an antidote—to machine-generated procedural writing.” He focused on building small-language models, which he describes as “bespoke miniature models of human language. Tiny grammars” and demonstrated “how these small, handcrafted language models can reveal insights, challenge assumptions, and even provoke arguments, all while grounded in a profound appreciation for human creativity.”

Those who are interested in viewing the workshops can access the program and abstracts.

To learn how to get involved in digital humanities at the U, contact Rebekah Cummings, interim director of the Digital Matters program at the Marriott Library.

Need to chat with a data librarian? Contact Kaylee Alexander and Madison Golden.