Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Realities, and Disrupted Futures – Literary Visions of Chinese Science-Fiction

Diese Veranstaltung fand in Kooperation mit dem 9. Literaturherbst Heidelberg statt.

Mit freundlicher Unterstützung des Center for Language Education and Cooperation (CLEC) in Peking.


In Mumbai, a teenage girl rebels because Artificial Intelligence (AI) gets in the way of her love interest. In South Korea, two students create avatars of their teachers. In Munich, a quantum computer scientist’s plan for revenge threatens the world. These speculative scenarios were published in the prize-winning book AI 2041: Ten Visions For Our Future (German title: KI 2041: Zehn Zukunfsvisionen) written by AI-expert Kai-fu LEE and science-fiction author CHEN Qiufan.

In this book, CHEN and LEE address the effects of artificial intelligence on people’s everyday lives as we are more and more getting used to self-learning software programs, such as chatbots, digital assistants and navigation systems, controlling our lives, with artificial intelligence thus becoming more and more decisive for many areas of our future. At the same time, our future has never felt so uncertain with the climate crisis, wars and global geopolitical power shifts threatening our freedom. How will artificial intelligence have changed our lives in twenty years? And what perspectives do science-fiction and speculative literature offer us in imagining our future with AI? We will approach and discuss these and further questions in a conversation with CHEN Qiufan and by readings of selected texts by the author.

CHEN Qiufan is an award-winning science fiction author, translator, creative producer, curator and Board Member of the World Chinese Fiction Association. His novel The Waste Tide was published in German translation in 2019 by Heyne under the title Die Siliziuminsel (translation: Marc Hermann). A selection of his short stories has been published in different German science fiction anthologies. A collection of texts on the future use of artificial intelligence by Chen Qiufan and AI-expert Kai-fu Lee was published by Campus in 2019 under the title KI 2041: Zehn Zukunftsvisionen. The book won the German Business Book Prize (Deutscher Wirtschaftsbuchpreis) in 2022.Chen is the founder and COO of the content production studio Thema Mundi and lives in Beijing and Shanghai.


Petra Thiel studied Modern Sinology, Romance Studies and Religious Studies in Heidelberg and Shanghai. Her PhD thesis focuses on gender and the contemporary coming of age novel in China and in global contexts. She is the Director of the Confucius Institute at Heidelberg University.