Your ticket to WIRED Pulse: AI at the Barbican includes access to the Barbican's major Summer exhibition AI: More Than Human. This interactive exhibition invites you into the ever-changing world of artificial intelligence. Exploring the boundaries between human and machine, it looks at how AI has shaped our present and how it could revolutionise our future. Ground-breaking research will demonstrate how this technology works and challenge you to think differently. Featuring works from a variety of artists and scientists, including Massive Attack, Es Devlin, teamLab, Lawrence Lek, Joy Buolamwini, Mario Klingemann, Kode9 and Neri Oxman; all of whom use AI as a medium for creation or a source of inspiration.
"AI art", or more precisely art created with neural networks, has recently started to receive broad media coverage in newspapers (New York Times), magazines (The Atlantic), and countless blogs. Combined with the ongoing general "AI hype" and multiple recent museum and gallery exhibitions, this coverage has produced the impression of a new star rising in the art world: that of machine-generated art. It has also led to the popularization of an ever-growing list of philosophical questions surrounding the use of computers for the creation of art. This brief article provides a pragmatic evaluation of the new genre of AI art from the perspective of art history. It attempts to show that most of the philosophical questions commonly cited as unique issues of AI art have been addressed before with respect to previous iterations of generative art starting in the late 1950s. In other words: while AI art has certainly produced novel and interesting works, from an art historical perspective it is not the revolution as which it is portrayed.
Mario Klingemann, a German artist who uses AI in his work, has radical views on creativity. "Humans are not original," he says. "We only reinvent, make connections between things we have seen." While humans can only build on what we have learned and what others have done before us, "machines can create from scratch". Setting aside whether or not human creativity is limited and indeed what precisely creativity is, it's certainly true that artificial neural networks being developed today work out the rules as they go along, rather than being taught.
For so many of us, artificial intelligence (AI) is a completely intangible thing – often drawing us in towards the realm of science fiction. In a professional sense, it is hard to see yet filters into our everyday lives. For us marketers, its lack of visibility can leave us struggling to fully get to grips with what is means for our business decisions. So, when I saw that the Barbican Centre in London had curated an exhibition on artificial intelligence, AI: more than human, I was keen to go along and immerse myself in the experience. In spite of the fact it isn't specifically about AI in the workplace, I thought, whilst getting up close and personal with its history as well as some of the latest technology, there might be transferrable ideas and concepts that would inspire and give me a better grasp of what it offers.
London, and particularly the Science Museum, has a long, solid history of mounting exhibitions on information technology topics, from its 1991 reconstruction of Babbage's Difference Engine to the industrial robots it featured in the late 1990s (which health and safety insisted should be behind glass), their humanoid fellows in 2017, and the 2014 exploration of the information age. This summer, the city has three such exhibitions running simultaneously, two of them at the Science Museum. You could summarize them as: 1) What have you done for us lately?; 2) What are you going to do for us?; and 3) Why is it taking so long? The first is GCHQ's romp through the history of keeping secrets, Top Secret: From ciphers to cyber security. This moves from the earliest times through Mary Queen of Scots' coded letters to World War II (GCHQ's formation, Bletchley Park and Alan Turing) and the Cold War.