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How artists can help us to explore the relationship between humans and machines


But first, why is this relationship important at all?


Machines and artificial intelligence are already a massive part of our lives and their presence is only going to increase


They currently look a bit like this


And hopefully will not end up like this...


Through understanding how they work meaningful connections and collaborations will be possible


The world of artificial intelligence, machine learning and algorithms can seem intimidating space to enter


We are constantly reminded the our jobs are at risk due to automation, so being able to work with machines will become increasingly important


But there is another reason why we should understand how machines work


The people who decide how these machines work have an enourmous amount of power


The decisions of a few can impact lives all over the world with negative consequences


Shouldn’t we at least know how they work so we understand how and why decisions are being made for us and try and take back some control?


Many are calling for more transparency and an ‘Open AI’ and for a more inclusive practice but understanding must come first


I found that the work of artists demystified Machine Learning, Neural Networks and the core principles of AI


Throughout history artists have come to terms with new technologies


The Futurists responded to the speed an dynamism that new technology brought at the turn of the 20th Century


Luigi Rossolo, Dinamismo di un’Automobile (1912)


And Cubist artists such as Picasso responded to the birth of photography


Pablo Picasso, Accordianist (1911)


Now artists are exploring what machines are capable of through using intelligence as a medium


Tom White is an artist who works Convolution Neural Networks, which are commonly used in image recognition algorithms


His work investigates how machines percieve the world. Abstract forms are created through training neural networks with images of real life objects


Tom White, Electric Fan (2018)


Robbie Barrat is an another artist using AI to create artwork


He has used Generative Adversarial Networks to create imaginary landscapes and applied machine learning to fashion, using images of Balenciaga’s catalougues to create outfits


A piece from Robbie Barrat’s AI Balenciaga collection


Robbie Barrat’s Landscapes created from thousands of images from WIkiArt


As well as exploring the technology under which machines operate, artists also uncover its flaws opening up ethical debates


Trevor Paglen is an artist who has explored how biases can impact the results of machine learning algorithms associated with computer vision


Trevor Paglen, Behind These Glorious Times (2017)


Computer vision is an especially important process to understand as machines are now producing images that are interpretted by other machines leaving humans out of the loop completely


Tensor flow Object Detection API


Interactive installations are also a good way to understand how machines work through actively engaging with the technology itself


An installation by the Cooper Hewitt institue created a space to communicate emtions through facial movements in a playful manner


Face Values, Somerset House (2018)


Facial data formed the basis of graphical images showing an alternative use of a technology typically used in surveillance and behavioural profiling


Performance art is another medium that can be used and Sougwen Chung is an artist who works with machines to create her work


She uses drawing, mark-making and installations as a way to explore the human - machine relationship and understand how we can form interactions


Sougen Chung, Omnia per Omnia (2018)


A common theme with these different artists is the way they view machines as creative collaborators


Understanding the differences between humans and machines can help help us understand our strengths, weaknesses and what makes us human


To summarise, I believe reaching the point of collaborating successfully with machines can be distilled into a two step process


The first step is understanding how machines currently work and the areas which they are impacting our lives


The second is to start working with machines, being critical of our interactions and reflecting on how we can combine the qualities of humans and machines successfully


More people will then be able to contribute and help pave the way for an inclusive model for working with intelligent machines which can benefit all of society

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