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The Human Condition Series – Debra Lott

The Human Condition Series – Debra Lott

Debra Lott


‘Trending 76×46 Oil on Canvas’

The anxiety of accidentally misplacing one’s phone, the fear that arrives of potentially missing important updates that could literally mean life or death is a reality all too real for many. It has become the norm of the 21st century to constantly check our phones and other devices for any signs of life; signs of connectivity to the world and others. We have become dependent to our devices, and humanity is slowly merging with and becoming inseparable from technology. The lines are almost totally blurred between man and machine but not only at a physical level, but now also delving deep within the emotional realm of the human psyche. That is exactly what Debra Lott beautifully illustrates in her oil painting series “The Human Condition“.
 
In her paintings, Debra depicts a colorful array of invasive wires, travelling between outlets and cybernetic implants, appearing almost constricting. According to the artist herself, the series visualizes the evolution of inter-relationship and inter-dependence between humanity and technology. “These figures symbolize the contemporary struggle to embrace, interact and stay current with 21st century technology; a love/hate relationship that empowers, improves quality of life, extends life and enslaves simultaneously.”
 
This love/hate relationship is what propels humanity to the impending future that looms near. It is a future where we must embrace the beautiful change that is to come as humanity’s capacity for knowledge increases and our manipulation of technology is nearly perfected. However, this future is overwhelming for some. Debra Lott offers a form of solace in the comfort that technology brings as she neutralizes the wires against backdrops of soothing pastel colors. Maybe one day machines will maximize the quality of life but will also know our every thought and emotion, maybe even hopes and desires. 
 

Transhuman 31×48 Oil on Canvas’

Debra Lott is a figurative oil painter and art educator. See the rest of her series and other work here.

~ Emanuel Iral, Director of Visual Art, U.S. Transhumanist Party, November 11, 2017

Interview with Dr. Akihiro Kubota by Ryan Starr

Interview with Dr. Akihiro Kubota by Ryan Starr

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Ryan Starr
Akihiro Kubota


Preface: Art gives birth to scientific innovation.

In an effort to learn more about the historical origins of transhumanism and posthumanism, R. Nicholas Starr began a journey to look at the many topics popular within those communities and retraced them back to art. To continue the research he began to reach out to the artists and scientists at the forefront of exploring this relationship. While he continues to prepare his research for publication, he has decided to release the transcripts from these interviews in hopes to spark conversation and gather even more insight into how the creative mind has shaped our scientific world as we move past the limits of the human body.

R. Nicholas Starr is a multimedia artist, biohacker, researcher, and theorist. With an education in signals intelligence from the United States Air Force, and 20 years of experience creating art and performing music in the U.S. and abroad, he has become a unique voice for the U.S. Transhumanist Movement and American policy.

The second in this series is an interview with Dr. Akihiro Kubota from the Tama Art University, Tokyo, Japan. A special thanks to Phil Harry who assisted with the translations.

Quick note and disclaimer from the translator:

I am not a trained professional translator, and this is my first time translating something of this scope, so it may not be a perfect interpretation of the original author’s intended meaning.

 

–BEGIN QUESTIONS–

 

What are the critical processes required to create an artificial intelligence program that turns data into art?

重要なのは、AIが作品をつくれるか、ではなく、AIが鑑賞できるか、だと思っています。今日の美術にとって重要なのは、作品そのものよりもその文脈なので、鑑賞するということは、作品に多様な文脈を接続することで、それは現在のAIのフレームワーク例えば機械学習/強化学習でも可能だと考えています。

I think what’s crucial is not necessarily whether or not AI can make art, but rather whether or not AI can appreciate art. In art that’s being made today, what is even more important than the work itself, is the context of the work. In this sense artistic appreciation requires making connections between the various contexts of a work. I think the framework of modern AI, (through machine learning and reinforcement learning, etc.) allows for this to be possible.

 

How would the progression from assisted AI to autonomous AI impact AI’s artistic power?

文脈は、環境と知覚に依存するので、人間以外の知覚から生まれる新たな文脈はが、新たな芸術を生み出すでしょう。AIが人間のための芸術をつくることよりも、人間がAIのための芸術をつくることつくれるかがより重要な問題だと思います。

Because context relies heavily on environment and perception, the new contexts that arise from the perception of an entity that is other than human should lead naturally to the creation of new types of art. Rather than AI creating art for the sake of humans, I think a more important problem is the idea of humans creating art for the sake of AI, and whether or not that is possible.

 

By continuing research in AI-created art, what conclusions can we draw about sentience and sapience?

ノラ・ハラリが「ホモ・デウス」で予測するように、人間が「無用」になった時に、新たな時代が始まるのだと思います。「労働」や「学校」という概念から自由になりイヴァン・イリイチが主張したように美術や芸術の本来の役割が復活するでしょう。それこそが、人間本来の姿なのかもしれません。「ホモ・デウス」の時代の「無用層」の芸術、そこに人間の未来があります。

As Yuval Noah Harari predicts in Homo Deus, I think the point at which humans become “useless” will be the beginning of a new age. Once we are freed from the concepts of “school” and “labor” (as asserted by Ivan Illich), the original, essential role of the arts could make a revival – in effect, a revival of man’s essential nature. In the art of the “useless class”, proposed by Homo Deus’s new age – that is where the future of mankind resides.

 

Artificial intelligence is a concept that has its roots in literature and mythology. Now that AI can create its own art, have we created a mutual feedback loop?

ハラリの主張の重要なポイントは、「意識」と「知性」の分離が起こることですgreat decouplingAIで「意識」を作ろうとするのは無駄なことです。むしろ「知性」を「意識」から解放することで、「知性」を自由にすることが、大きな可能性を生み出します。擬人化という牢屋から知性を出してあげましょう。

The crucial point of Harari’s claim is the separation of “consciousness” and “intelligence” (the “Great Decoupling”) – the idea being that it is futile to attempt to create consciousness in AI. Rather, by unleashing the concept of intelligence from consciousness, this liberation will bring forth great possibilities. In this way I think we should reconsider how we think of intelligence and set it free from the confines of personification and anthropomorphization.

 

Is it possible to amplify or modify this feedback loop by interfacing AI directly with the human body?

人間が拡張することと、知性が自由になることは、本質的に無関係です。人間には理解できない知性があることを前提に、人は生きていかなければなりません。人間がAIの知性の進化を阻害することこそを懸念しなければなりません。

The advancement of mankind and the liberation of intelligence are essentially unrelated. People are going to have to get comfortable living under the assumption that there are types of intelligence that we can’t comprehend. Instead, what we should concern ourselves with is whether or not we are actively inhibiting the evolution of AI.

 

You previously acknowledged that the human body has the ability to adapt to, and capitalize on, a new bio-interface. With the current interest in neural lace and other cybernetic technology, how do you see humanity evolving after a several generations of use?

そうした中で、人間は人間としてその可能性を拡げていくことができるのか。僕は、人間はそれだけの柔軟性と可塑性を有していると思います。機械を人間に適合するのでなく、人間が機械に適合しようとすることで、その可能性を拡げていくことこそが、人間の未来を形作っていきます。

In addition to that, I wonder about the human capacity to expand on this ability. As it is, humans alone are endowed with the necessary flexibility and plasticity to do so. Rather than machines conforming to the needs of humans, by attempting to adapt to the machines, and expand our own capabilities, we will shape the future of mankind.

 

Do you predict our interactions changing with planet and space as a result?

今日の人間の一番の特徴は、個人の能力にあるのではなく、その数人口にあります。人間の「量」こそがポイントです。そういった意味からは、人間の「量」が地球自体に大きな影響を与えることは、不可避だと思います。地球の有限性が      顕在化したのです。

The greatest trait humans possess today is not our individual abilities, but our collective abilities. The emphasis here being on our “quantity” – meaning that the effect we collectively have on the very planet we live on is an inevitability. And we are beginning to see that the limits of our planet are being actualized.

 

A significant amount of your work focuses on satellite-based data collection. Why do you prefer this point of view?

芸術も科学と同様、常にフロンティア遠くを目指しています。パーソナルなテクノロジーで衛星を作れるようになった今、なぜそれを使って芸術をやらないのかARTSATプロジェクトは、極めて当たり前の行為芸術活動だと思っています。

Art and Science alike are on the cutting edge of new horizons, and constantly reaching into distant frontiers. Living in an age where we have the capabilities to create satellites using “personal technology”, using them to create art seems like a natural progression. So for me, the ARTSAT project is just an extremely obvious artistic endeavour to undertake.

 

You stated that the DESPATCH probe “composes and encodes poetry reflecting not only the sensor data but the artist’s subconscious personality”. Did the sculptural shape of DESPATCH influence the data collected and final tonal output?

最初に書いたように、芸術にとって重要なのは作品をつくることではなく、作品を鑑賞解釈することです。同じデータでも、10人の人が鑑賞すれば、そこの10個の異なる作品が生まれるのです。たとえ、受信データが単なるノイズであったとしても。

As I said before, when it comes to art, the most important thing is not the creation of a piece of artwork, but instead the aesthetic appreciation or the interpretation of the piece. In terms of DESPATCH, if you had ten different people looking at the same data, they would all interpret it in different ways, and thus give rise to ten separate pieces. And this is true even if the transmission signal’s data is merely background noise.

 

How can the average person create their own scientific lens to view and create art?

政治や経済、マスメディアがつくりだしている、虚構の人間観にとらわれず、人間本来の姿や可能性に気がつくことが必要です。労働から解放され、無用な存在になり、ゴーギャンのように『我々はどこから来たのか 我々は何者か 我々はどこへ行くのか』と問うことは、誰にでもできますし、誰もが行うべきことなのだと思います。そこには、制度としての「科学」も「芸術」も不要です。必要なのは「理性」と「知性」なのです。「感情」を偏重する今日の社会の危険性は、すでに多くの人が気づいていることだと思います。何とかしなければなりません。

Systems of government, economies, mass media, etc. – these are all man-made concepts. It is essential that we not be seized by these fabricated human perspectives in order to realize our essential nature and reach the limits of human potential. Once we are freed from the restraints of human toil and begin to occupy Harari’s “useless” existence, I think it will be possible and necessary for all people to wrestle with the existential questions put forth by Gaugin in “Where do we come from? What are we? And where are we going?”. It is in this space that the systems known as “science” and “art” will become unnecessary. What is important are “reason” and “intelligence”. I believe many people are already realizing the potential danger of overemphasizing the importance of “emotion” in today’s society, and I think we need to do something about that.

 

Ryan Starr (R. Nicholas Starr) is the is the leader of the Transhumanist Party of Colorado and founder of the Transhumanists of the Sierras

See Dr. Akihiro Kubota’s page of teaching achievements and activities here.