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KENRIC MCDOWELL, bringing together humans & machines

Interview by CLOT Magazine

Kenric 2
Output, or poetry, from Ross Goodwin’s RNN-LSTM

Machine learning – a method of data analysis that automates analytical model building, or the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed- is having a growing impact on our everyday lives: from practical speech recognition, effective web search, vastly improved understanding of the human genome to first prototypes of self-driving cars.

But what is the influence these new forms of computing intelligence will exert on artists and their creative processes? Can it help us understand human creativity? And how does it work? These are some of the articulating questions the work of Artificial Intelligence curator Kenric McDowell revolves around.

Kenrick, who has long had professional interests in the intersection of culture and technology, currently leads the Artists + Machine Intelligence program at Google Research; after moving from New York City and a few years working in the advertising industry to L.A. AMI is a program at Google that brings artists and engineers to support and encourage collaboration between them and intelligent systems in artmaking.

An emerging form of collaboration that opens new ways of thinking and working with intelligent systems. And Kenric helps drive forward cross-collaborations between Google AI researchers, artists and cultural institutions.

Kenric was at Sonar+D 2017, giving a talk as part of the Google AI Showcase: How machine learning and artificial intelligence are changing the art of the future panel. In his talk Creativity Beyond Human Creativity, McDowell presented the AMI program and how AI entities are not merely tools, but collaborators in the creative process, changing the art of the future. He explored how artificial Intelligence and “Machine Learning” are already having an impact on the economy, transforming the industry and the way we work, as well as influencing the work of creators and artists.

After Sónar, Kenric stopped for a few days in London, and he kindly agreed to meet and chat with us. We were lucky to have a quick personal tour around the Google building in King’s Cross and deepen into questions such as how artists and creators change the way they work when their tools can come up with creative decisions or what is the value of this new art form. It was fascinating to speak with someone with so much vision and forward thinking.

As we build systems with cognition that can understand and recognise the world, new ways of reading the world will also be created, forms that may have never come out of a human brain.

This podcast was produced by CLOT Magazine and Stephen Mclaughlin (
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