Ellipsis exhibition

Students of the Systems of Representation: Culture Laboratory course at the Department of Media, Media Lab of Aalto University have created an exhibition named Ellipsis that is on display at the Harald Herlin Learning Centre from 15 May – 6 June 2019. The exhibition is a collaboration with the Aalto University Archives. It was a great pleasure to work with students who rediscovered archived cultural materials in a new, creative way and raised interesting questions about time, space, and materiality.

The exhibition depicts speculative design interventions related to three case studies presented in the course: Time and its Representation in Narrative, Exhibiting the Body, and Space in Digital Media. Students reused cultural materials from the Aalto University Archives in a creative way to address the following questions: How is the representation of time constructed differently in genres and narratives across different cultures and epochs? What are some of the parameters involved when exhibiting the body? How can we use media to augment our notion of space in an exhibition? Aside from historical documentation what other roles do archives fulfill in art and design productions?

One beautiful work has been made by Jennifer Greb who reused “Dekorative Vorbilder” book from 1984. It is the ornamental design book that includes dozens of pages of hand-drawn illustrations. The book is stored in the Aalto Archives. To rediscover this beautiful book, Greb has created an Augmented Reality animation to present the illustrations in a new, dynamic way. Please come and see the exhibition! More information can be found here.

Imaginary Cities

The British Library displays a wonderful exhibition created by artist Michael Takeo Magruder. “Imaginary Cities” is the transformation of the British Library’s online collection of historic urban maps into fictional cityspaces for the Information Age.

The exhibition comprises four technology-based art installations, exclusively created using images and metadata of 19th-century city maps drawn from the Library’s “One Million Images from Scanned Books” collection on Flickr Commons. It is an impressive and beautiful artwork! It shows how digitised cultural materials can be reused in a creative way and give rise to unique born-digital artifacts. “The exhibition highlights how the Library is not simply a repository of knowledge, but a storehouse of creative potential that is constantly generating new avenues for culture”.

To kill, or not to kill?

Driveless car faces moral dilemmas which should be solved by ethics or data? The research about the ethic of driveless car is undertaken by Media Lab at MIT and  Culture and Morality Lab at the University of California Irvine where researchers try to address the following issues: “Should the car risk its passengers’ lives by swerving to the side—where the edge of the road meets a steep cliff? Or should the car continue on its path, ensuring its passengers’ safety at the child’s expense?”

Shariff and his colleagues from Media Lab MIT launched a Website called “Moral Machine” to help gather more information about how people would prefer autonomous cars to react in different scenarios where passenger and pedestrian safety are at odds. At this website, you can take a test “start judging”, that is to say, you need to decide where the car should hit and consequently, whom it should kill to save the others. Do you prefer to save young people or seniors? Women or men? Doctors or robbers? Should the car kill two passengers or five pedestrians? Take a test and help to gather the information about a human perspective on moral decisions made by machine intelligence, such as self-driving cars. And also be sure that it is an interesting experience to get to know your preferences and ethics!

70 years of AI

iWonder – the section of BBC – published 15 key moments in a history of artificial intelligence from 1943 until 2014. The history covers the following breakthroughs, such as the first mobile, autonomous robot (1943), Turing Test (1950), Three Laws of Robotics designated by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov (1950), the introduction of the term ‘artificial intelligence’ (1956), the establishment of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology founded by Marvin Minsky (1963), Shakey the Robot, the first general-purpose mobile robot able to make decisions about its own actions by reasoning about its surroundings (1969), “Elephants Don’t Play Chess”, important paper published by AI scientist Rodney Brooks (1990),  iRobot, the first commercially successful robot for the home – an autonomous vacuum cleaner called Roomba (2002), autonomous robots BigDog, made by Boston Dynamics (2005), a Google app with speech recognition, appeared on the new Apple iPhone (2008), the participation of machine IBM’s Watson in US quiz show Jeopardy (2011), and much more.

After 2014, we can indicate the next crucial moments in the history of AI, such as self-driving car Tesla, and Nao robots that passed a classic self-awareness test for the first time in 2015.

Abra: A Living Text for iOS

Abra: A Living Text is a free iOs app and a limited-edition artist’s book printed with heat-sensitive ink and other features that animate the page. It is created by Amy Rabas at the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago with a collaboration between Amaranth Borsuk, Kate Durbin, Ian Hatcher. Abra invites a reader to play with touchscreen interfaces whereby you can shift words under your fingers, mutate the text, and write your own words. However, the iOs app does not make this book a special text; the biggest challenge is to move these effects to the printed page. Therefore, the artist’s book printed is a great experience of reading the page as an interface. Thanks to thermochromic ink that disappears with the heat of your hands or breath, and laser-cut openings, the book becomes a real interface.

Read more about Abra.

AI novel

Can a computer write poetry? Oscar Schwartz in his fascinating presentation during TedxYouth in Sydney left no doubts that computer can create poetry sounding like William Blake’s or Frank O’Hara’s poems. Further, algorithm can produce poem sounding so much better than poem of not one outstanding poet. What is more, it turns out that artificial intelligence (AI) can compete with human for a literary award.

The Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award is only prize involving human and applicants who are not human beings (AI programs and others). However, this year was the first time when submitted literary texts were created by coauthorship between human and ‘nonhuman beings’: AI programs. Among 1,450 novels received in the competition, 11 works involved AI programs.

AI novel called “The Day A Computer Writes A Novel” was produced by Hitoshi Matsubara and his team at Future University Hakodate in Japan. Although AI novel did not win the final prize, it passed the first screening process for a domestic literary prize. According to jury, the meta-narrative was not enough good to get the prize. It turns out that while structure and mechanism of novel were programmed very well, character descriptions were poor created. It is only a matter of time, when machine improves a programming of more ‘human’ part of text. Nevertheless, this is just the beginning of literary competition between human and nonhuman being.