Artificial Intelligence: The Other I
Ars Electronica Festival
7-11 September 2017
Linz, Austria

Amy Karle is exhibiting “Regenerative Reliquary” at Ars Electronica Festival 2017.

 

Ars Electronica is one of the world’s foremost media art festivals. Beginning in 1979, this festival of art, technology and society was established to highlight the emerging Digital Revolution. Once a year, Ars Electronica invites artists, scientists and researchers from all over the world to a conclave in Linz to confront a specific, interdisciplinary theme in the context of exhibition, speeches, workshops, and symposia. This is a setting for experimentation, evaluation and reinvention, for the search for that which advances the betterment of human society. Ars Electronica’s divisions inspire one another and put futuristic visions to the test in a unique, creative feedback loop as an integrated organism continuously reinventing itself.

2017 Ars Electronica Festival
From September 7-11, Linz will host an exciting, comprehensive confrontation with the reality and the vision of artificial intelligence. Symposia, exhibitions, performances, workshops and artistic interventions will elaborate in depth on its cultural, psychological, philosophical and spiritual dimensions. Consideration of the essence of a future artificial intelligence created by human beings will also be the point of departure of a process of reflection about ourselves, our weaknesses and strengths—in short, about what makes us human.

Theme: Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Das andere Ich / The Other I
The thrill engendered by futuristic super-machines is dominating the headlines. So what are we to make of artificial intelligence? Gigantic job eliminator? Or the next step in evolution, the one in which technology finally asserts its mastery over us? Or maybe the source of redemptive systems that develop new medications for us and operate on us, that invest and multiply our capital, and that even make better business executives because the boss is finally a more rational decision-maker? Artificial intelligence has many faces and they’re sure to pay attention to us all. Dispassionately considered, the latest developments in artificial intelligence truly are astounding, and they’ll soon be proceeding even faster. Deep learning, self-learning neuronal networks, autonomous mobile robots and smart digital assistants—they’re said to be the next big game changers, and they undoubtedly have the right stuff to do so. The expectations are high and the investments promise to yield huge future profits.

The Other I” – Technology as Antagonist or Alter Ego?
These developments bring us to an up-close-and-personal encounter with fundamental questions of our own identity and existence. For instance, what would it mean for us as “creatures capable of reason” if we suddenly no longer had a monopoly on thinking? Would we remain the “crown of creation”? And, even then, will there still be something that only human beings are capable of doing—and if so, what? How are we to come up with ethical principles for our future super-robots when we’re unable to accomplish this among our fellow human beings? Will we ever even be able to accept the fundamental otherness of such an artificial intelligence considering how difficult this is for us in our interactions with other people with a different skin color or of another religion? And what about a potential human-machine conflict of interest—aren’t we massively impairing our prospects for success by degrading our ecosystem and everything else that we human beings—in contradistinction to machines—are dependent upon? Our urge to create a perfect likeness of ourselves and our fear of someday being overthrown by that very creature intertwine in our vision of artificial intelligence to an extent unmatched by any other technology. Artificial intelligence is thus the perfect projection surface upon which to consider the images of human beings and worldviews that are widespread in this Digital Age today.

In light of this background, the theme of the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival is “Artificial Intelligence – The Other I.” The visions, expectations and fears that are associated with the conception of a future, all-encompassing artificial intelligence are the interest and focus of the festival. As the subtitle suggests, attention will be focused beyond the technological and economic horizon to scrutinize cultural, psychological, philosophical and spiritual aspects and implications.

Together with artists, scientists, scholars and experts in business, politics and religion, this year’s Ars Electronica Festival will endeavor to ascertain which of our fears are justified and which are just manifestations of our ambivalent attitude towards technology. After all, if we might ultimately be risking everything in this gambit, why are we even getting involved in an adventure like artificial intelligence in the first place? This is the question that Ars Electronica dedicates it 2017 Festival to. (text adaped from https://www.aec.at/ai)