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Rise of the Machines: The History of Artificial Intelligence

As you go about your day, enjoying weather updates from Alexa, traffic jam avoidance from Waze, and Spotify recommended playlists, it’s easy to forget this moment is the culmination (actually, work-in-progress is more accurate) of centuries of toils.

As time moved through the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, the idea of artificial intelligence crystallized, with Ismail al-Jazari — seen as the father of robotics — creating arguably the first programmable robot in what is now Turkey around 1206.

While there was promising work done on neural networks, logical reasoning algorithms, and even machine learning, computers still largely lacked the storage and processing power for true intelligence, and AI winter began as it fell out of favor with those who would fund its continued development (aka, the government).

Fast forward to 2018, where the AI Now Report found not only harmful inaccuracies in AI-driven technology, but also an alarming lack of accountability and, in some cases, systems built on racial discrimination or used for human rights violations.

It remains to be seen whether in the future artificial intelligence will lead to utopia or the scorched Earth of The Matrix but contrary to Descarte’s hypothesis, it seems the minds (and hearts) of man and machine are inexorably linked — for better or worse.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Health Outcomes Challenge

There was overwhelming interest in the CMS Artificial Intelligence Health Outcomes Challenge and more than 300 launch stage applications were submitted!

To allow enough time for a thorough and fair review of all applications, the judging period for the launch stage is being extended and announcement of Stage 1 participants will be made in October 2019.

Golems, masks, and artificial intelligence: a conversation with Dr. Suzanne Livingston

Justin Manley: When I saw AI: More than Human, I was expecting an art-museum kind of show, with white walls and oceans of space in between the artworks.

Art is part of the exploration of AI — there’s a huge conversation right now about whether AI can be creative, for example — but it really matters to me that people leave the show having a much stronger sense of what AI actually is.

Especially in this part of the world those stories — of a woman and a gay man in computing — need to be pulled up right to the fore.

The design brief was about creating a space which literally had breath, so it was very much our intention to bring this space to life.

We’re working subtly with the lighting throughout, which means it’s not constant — it has a kind of pulse of its own, whether you notice it or not.

And the plinths are actually based on the golem form — they’re coming from an ancient reference.

These forms drawn from ancient mythologies of AI which appear at the beginning of the show become the physical supports for displaying cutting-edge contemporary AI research later in the exhibition.

The Curve sweeps around the performance hall at the Barbican — it’s a long, narrow, curving exhibition space.

A great space to work with, but it does mean we’re not offering the artists beautiful, pristine environments for their work.

Freud was fundamental in developing the idea of the uncanny — a feeling of uncomfortable familiarity we experience when we look at lifelike dolls and wax sculptures.

As I stood in front of the robot, I felt almost…a kind of pity, because I couldn’t make sense of its movements.

The old model of it being a butler, doing the ironing — I’m grateful that as a society, that we’re moving beyond thinking that.

That vision of AI as a butler reflects an old master-slave narrative which is full of problems — because then we start having an antagonistic relationship with AI.

That way, we actually see what it can give us, and it’s much more like a dance between us and it, rather than imposing ourselves upon the technology, putting it to use, getting it to do our basic tasks.

JM: There’s an anthropologist named Sherry Turkle who argues that the ubiquity of the rational machine (in the form of the computer) has forced us to relinquish rationality as a defining quality of what it means to be human.

SL: I don’t know if it’s right for us to term these abilities or qualities within technology using our own language.

I don’t think we can control it — or at least we have to think hard about what we mean by “control.” The question is: how do we lead in relationship to it?

So it’s crucial to maintain an attentive, playful awareness of AI, in addition to participating in the big debates of today.