5 Novels That Predicted Our Unease With AI Chatbots

By Carrie McBride, Communications
March 6, 2023

Artificial intelligence has long been a topic of science fiction writing and authors like Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, and William Gibson, to name a few, have helped form our popular imagination of robots, AI, and the relationship between humans and machines. Having a conversation with an AI machine is no longer far-fetched—we talk to our phones, our computers, our cars—and as AI chatbots like ChatGPT and others start to be available and integrated into search engines and other technology, we're just seeing the beginning of how we will converse and interact with AI machines in the future. (Take New York Times reporter Kevin Roose's recent uncomfortable, and to many—alarming, conversation with Bing's chat function that suggested he was unhappy in his marriage and, furthermore, professed its love.)

While much of classic science fiction writing about AI has focused on the dangers, often physical, of robot uprisings and humans losing control over technology, contemporary authors are also exploring the emotional and existential hazards of engaging with sophisticated AI that increasingly acts sentient. The novels below lean more toward literary fiction than science fiction and prompt us to think about what makes us human—and whether it can be programmed.

Summaries provided via NYPL’s catalog, which draws from multiple sources. Click through to each book’s title for more.