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Artificial Intelligence and Its Road to Art

Artificial Intelligence (Image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay)

The idea of machines learning and having thoughts of their own like humans is not a new concept. The first to dive deep into this concept was Alan Turing, who is known as the father of computers and artificial intelligence. The Turing test, named after Turning, is the concept of whether a machine can think like a human.

Smiling robot assistant with artificial intelligence in a public place
Smiling robot assistant with artificial intelligence in a public place (Image via Envato Elements)

This can be tested by having a black room that you feed input to. The room will respond back. This continues on and the box will always respond with something that continues the conversation and mimics human conversation. The idea is that if the box looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. The machine has human intelligence.

Now fast forward a little to the 1950s-1960s. This is when actual artificial intelligence started to actually take shape and form into something practical rather than just a mind experiment.

JOSEPH WEIZENBAUM AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

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Joseph Weizenbaum is known in the computer science community as one of the founders of artificial intelligence (A.I.). He contributed many findings about and around the subject. However, he is mostly known for his contributions with a computer program called ELIZA.

ELIZA was impactful for the computer science community because it was one of the first instances of a chat bot. But not just a simple call and response chat bot. A chat bot that seemed to the user to be another user communicating with them.

ELIZA

Conversation With ELIZA

ELIZA was released in 1966. This was a computer program game that stimulated the appearance of A.I. This was one of the first instances of a chatter box. Users would interact with the text chat and the machine would respond.

What’s interesting about ELIZA is that the game would stimulate conversation by asking the player questions, making it seem as though the machine was thinking on its own.

Another interesting fact about ELIZA’s inventor is that he was a Third Culture Kid (TCK).

JOSEPH WEIZENBAUM’S EARLY LIFE

Weizenbaum grew up in Germany until he was 13 years old. He and his family emigrated on his 13th birthday to Michigan, U.S.A. due to the the raise of Nazi Germany and implications of World War II. Although their family was not strongly religious, they were Jewish and moved abruptly for safety.

Due to the suddenness of the move, Weizenbaum didn’t know any English and had to learn quickly and adapt to his new environment.

The computer programmer is a creator of universes for which he alone is the lawgiver. No playwright, no stage director, no emperor, however powerful, has ever exercised such absolute authority to arrange a stage or field of battle and to command such unswervingly dutiful actors or troops.

Joseph Weizenbaum

A.I. AND ART

Since the boom of machine learning and A.I. back in the 60’s, people used this technology everyday. These are like personal virtual assistants (think Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant nowadays), targeted ads, security surveillance videos, customer service, etc. Now people are also using this technology to make art.

Or in a particularly interesting situation an A.I. named Ai-Da makes art herself.

Ai-Da giving a TedX talk where she makes art

AISHATU ADO

Aishatu Ado is a woman who uses A.I. to make beautiful pieces of art. She is “a creative Diasporean of African descent that weaves real-world issues into technological promises of a better future. Aishatu explores Sub-Saharan African and Indigenous epistemologies and ontologies found in mythology, folklore, and oral literature to design innovative, restorative and equitable future[s].”

Art made with A.I. done by Aishatu Ado
Art made with A.I. done by Aishatu Ado

Ado’s work is about futurism and the possibilities that come along with the future. She dives deep into this through a Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) lense. She is one of the leading women in the fields for A.I. ethics and is an inspiration for BIPOC women entering into computer science. 

From the beginning of A.I. to now, a lot of interesting new ways to use the technology have emerged. Especially in the world of art, A.I. and its implementations as an art medium is very new and foreign.

As this medium grows, it will be interesting to see where artists and computer scientists take us.

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