Litquake: Reading, Writing, Robots: AI and Literature

Co-presented by Litquake, City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, The Grid, Goethe-Institut San Francisco

When GPT-3, OpenAI’s language generator, launched last year, people across the Internet fed it reams of literary data to create poems, plays, scripts and stories. Computational tools allow distant reading at a scale far beyond the scope of human comprehension. As texts become data and algorithms become co-authors, some futurists speculate that humans will relinquish creative fields to machines. In the work of authorship and analysis, artificial intelligence promises to remake the landscape of literature as we have long known it. Yet, literary history is replete with work composed by, with and for machines, from Pāṇini’s pioneering work in generative grammar to the avant-garde poetry of Dada and OuLiPo. Join Catherine Flynn, Chen Quifan, and Robin Sloan for a spirited discussion of AI’s influence on how we read and how we write. Moderated by Vanessa Chang and Bettina Wodianka.

FREE, $5-10 suggested donation (pre-registration required)

Litquake's 2021 Festival runs from 10/7-10/23. Full schedule at!




Litquake sparks critical conversations, and inspires writers and readers to celebrate the written word with diverse literary programming, ​interactive workshops, and a ten-day festival. Whether it’s poets reciting in a cathedral, authors discussing science versus religion in a library, or novelists reading in a beekeeping supply store, the goal remains the same: whet a broad range of literary appetites, present the literary fare in a variety of traditional and unlikely venues, and make it vivid, real, and entertaining. Now grown to the largest independent literary festival on the West Coast, Litquake continues its mission as a ten-day literary spectacle for booklovers, complete with cutting-edge panel discussions, unique cross-media events, and hundreds of readings.

Goethe-Institut San Francisco

The Goethe-Institut is the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany with a global reach. We promote knowledge of the German language abroad and foster international cultural cooperation. We convey a comprehensive image of Germany by providing information about cultural, social and political life in our nation. Our cultural and educational programmes encourage intercultural dialogue and enable cultural involvement. They strengthen the development of structures in civil society and foster worldwide mobility.

City Lights Booksellers & Publishers

City Lights Books is a landmark independent bookstore and publisher that specializes in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics.

The Grid

The Grid is a global network connecting artists and technologists. Launched in Silicon Valley, it has since transformed into a multi-stakeholder platform of artists, technologists, cultural institutions, policy makers, and the global tech industry.

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