The human aura is now being subverted by a variety of simulacra. OpenAI’s language-generation program GPT-3 illustrates the challenges of interpreting algorithmic-generated texts. This article advocates interpretive strategies that recognize the profound differences (in the case of GPT-3) of language that issues from a program that has a model only of language, not of the world. Conscious robots, when and if they emerge, will have profoundly different embodiments than humans. Fictions that imagine conscious robots thus face a similar challenge presented by the GPT-3 texts: will they gloss over the differences, or will they enact strategies that articulate the differences and explore their implications for humans immersed in algorithmic cultures? The author analyzes three contemporary novels that engage with this challenge: Annalee Newitz’s Autonomous (2017), Kuzuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun (2021), and Ian McEwan’s Machines like Me (2019). Each interrogates how the human aura is subverted by conscious robots. The article concludes by proposing how a reconfigured human aura should be constituted.

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