Home » Exhibitions » Exhibition Review – AI: More than Human at the Barbican from 16 May to 26 August 2019

Exhibition Review – AI: More than Human at the Barbican from 16 May to 26 August 2019

The Barbican presents a major new exhibition: AI: More than Human which provides a survey of creative and scientific developments in artificial intelligence and explores the evolution of the relationship between humans and technology. The exhibition tells the story of AI, from its ancient roots in mythology, Lovelace and Babbage’s early experiments in computing, to AI’s major developmental leaps from the 1940s to the present day.

AI: More than Human features cutting-edge research projects, from DeepMind, Jigsaw, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL), IBM, Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Google Arts and Culture, Google PAIR, Affectiva, Lichtman Lab at Harvard, Eyewire, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Wyss Institute and Emulate Inc.

The exhibition begins with a section entitled The Dream of AI which considers the human desire to bring the inanimate objects to life which goes back to ancient times. Artist and electronic musician Kode9 presents a newly commissioned sound installation on the golem. A mythical creature from Jewish folklore, the golem has influenced art, literature and film for centuries from Frankenstein to Blade Runner . Stefan Hurtig & Detlef Weitz look at the way artificial life forms have been imagined in film and television.

The next section called Mind Machines explains how AI has developed through history with a focus on innovators who tried to convert rational thought into code. This section includes some of the pioneers of early AI such as Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage; Claude Shannon’s experimental games; Alan Turing’s efforts to decipher code in World War II; Deep Blue vs chess champion Garry Kasparov; IBM’s Watson, who beat a human on US gameshow, Jeopardy ! in 2011; and DeepMind’s AlphaGo, which became the first computer to defeat a professional in the complex Chinese strategy game Go in 2016.

Also in this section is MIT CSAIL’s SoFi – a robotic fish that can independently swim alongside real fish in the sea and Sony’s 2018 robot puppy, aibo, who uses its database of memories and experiences to develop its own personality. Google PAIR’s project Waterfall of Meaning is a glimpse into the interior of an AI.

Artist Mario Klingemann’s piece Circuit Training invites visitors to take part in teaching a neural network to create a piece of art. Visitors will first help create the data set by allowing the AI to capture their image, then select from the visuals produced by the network, to teach it what they find interesting. The machine is constantly learning from this human interaction to create an evolving piece of live art.  In Myriad (Tulips) , artist Anna Ridler looks at the politics and process of using large datasets to produce a piece of art.

The next section, Data Worlds explores the practical applications of AI to improve commerce, change society and enhance our personal lives. Affectiva, the leader in Human Perception AI demonstrates how AI can improve road safety and the transportation experience. In Sony CSL’s Kreyon City , visitors plan and build their own city out of LEGO and learn how the combination of human creativity and AI could represent a promising tool in major architecture and infrastructure decisions.

Data Worlds also addresses important ethical issues such as bias, control, truth and privacy. Scientist, activist and founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, Joy Buolamwini examines racial and gender bias in facial analysis software.

The final section entitled Endless Evolution looks at the future of our species and also the possibility of a creation of a new species. reflecting on the laws of ‘nature’ and how artificial forms of life fit into this. Massive Attack mark the 20th anniversary of their landmark album Mezzanine by encoding the album in strands of synthetic DNA in a spraypaint can. Alter 3, created by roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa with artificial life researcher Takashi Ikegami and Itsuki Doi uses a deep learning system, Alter learns from its experiences and works with humans to define new perspectives of co-existence in the world.

Architect, designer and MIT Professor Neri Oxman presents ongoing projects from her research lab, The Mediated Matter Group at MIT. The Synthetic Apiary explores the possibility of a controlled space in which seasonal honeybees can produce honey all year round. Vespers , explores what it means to design (with) life. From the relic of the ancient death mask to the design and digital fabrication of an adaptive and responsive living mask.

MIT’s Open Agriculture Initiative looks at ensuring our food security for the future with their AI-driven ‘personal computer farms’ that optimise the development of crops in tabletop-sized growing chambers. It hopes to bring controlled agriculture into the household, by gathering crop-growing data from a network of farms and sharing it with the wider public. Lichtman Lab at Harvard and Eyewire both look at mapping the brain in their research projects and the implications this could have for our health.

The exhibition ends with a short film produced by Mark Gorton, Visionaries , which lets thinkers and experts Danielle George, Amy Robinson Sterling, Kanta Dihal, Yoichi Ochiai, Francesca Rossi and Andrew Hessel speak about their vision of singularity and the future.

This fascinating exhibition uses digital media and immersive art installations to enable visitors to interact directly with exhibits to experience some of AI’s capabilities first-hand. However behind the high tech is some important questions about AI like What does it mean to be human? and what are the ethics behind the development of AI? For all the remarkable recent developments and useful practical applications, the development of certain aspects of AI has been incredibly slow. The dream from the 20th century of a world full of robots that can fully replicate humans has not really happened. Part of the reason is that human beings are remarkably complex and whilst it is easy to replicate certain simple functions, ideas such as consciousness and imagination are more difficult concepts to replicate.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets , visit the Barbican website here

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