Nowadays, artificial intelligence is behind most of our interactions with computers and digital devices, apps and social networks.
Every time we use a computer, smartphone or tablet to consult a map, publish content on social networks, search for information on the Internet or find new music or series, we are supplying data to the companies that provide us with these services. When we give orders to Siri or Alexa, we teach the system to understand what we say and memorize our actions. The more we learn from computers, the more they learn from us. All the data we generate, without even knowing it, helps the artificial intelligence systems of large companies to understand both our present activity and our desires, and to try to predict what we will do or want to do in the future.
The potential of artificial intelligence is so great, and the knowledge of what it actually does is so limited, that the discourses that surround it move indistinctly between facts and myths. Artificial neural networks are presented to us as black boxes that can do incredible things, and to do so they need data, more and more data, in order to understand the world in which we live and ourselves. The ultimate function of artificial intelligence is to create a machine capable of thinking for itself, to make our lives easier, to predict our needs and thus optimize our interaction with the world, solve our daily problems and help us navigate in an increasingly complex environment.
Resolving the complexity of a situation with a simple solution goes back a long way: in Greek theatre, an actor who played a god and decided the outcome of the plot with the authority of an omnipotent being was sometimes used to take to the stage on a crane. This resource was called in Latin deus ex machina, and it was a shortcut that broke with the coherence of the narrative but brought an end, however implausible it might have been. Artificial intelligence is now presented to us as a deus ex machina, an artificial solution that promises to speed up the outcome of our problems, leading us to a world in which everything is resolved through data processing and a few algorithms.
Artificial intelligence is also our deus ex machina because it unites the machine (formerly a mere mechanical contraption) and the deity in an artificial entity which we endow with authority and contribute to making omniscient and prescient: thanks to the processing of enormous amounts of data and machine learning, computers will be able to know everything that exists and predict everything that will happen.
D3US EX M4CH1NA. Art and Artificial Intelligence proposes an exploration of the issues surrounding artificial intelligence technologies. A selection of contemporary works of art invites us to reflect on the expectations and fears raised by the idea of an intelligent machine.
Curated by: Karin Ohlenschläger and Pau Waelder
Artists: Memo Akten, Harold Cohen, Jake Elwes, Lynn Hershman-Leeson, Felix Luque, Lauren McCarthy, Anna Ridler, Guido Segni, Caroline Sinders, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau, Jenna Sutela, Patrick Tresset, Pinar Yoldas
Graphic design: Juan Jareño
Cofinanced by the European Union's Creative Europe Programme