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Exhibition: Uncanny Values at MAK Vienna

Text by CLOT Magazine

Probably Chelsea, Heather Dewey-Hagborg und Chelsea E. Manning (2017)

On May 29, an exhibition titled UNCANNY VALUES: Artificial Intelligence & You opened its doors to the public at the MAK in Vienna. The exhibition focuses on a subject that has captivated human imagination for decades and has become part of our everyday lives: artificial intelligence. 18 international artists and designers have contributed their work across various media complemented by real-life examples of AI applications.

The “uncanny”, as described by Freud, is the experience of something very familiar yet simultaneously strange and terrifying. The Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori used the term “uncanny valley” to describe machines that are almost human-like but not quite, thus perceived as creepy and disturbing. Nowadays, sophisticated systems can think for themselves and learn from their mistakes, making them increasingly humanoid and uncanny.

The exhibition brings to attention our dynamic relationship with AI and the need to cultivate new attitudes and awareness that incorporate machines playing an increasingly bigger role in our world. As AI becomes involved in almost all aspects of our lives, from social interactions to political views and financial transactions, it inevitably influences our perception of the world and our choices. Apprehensions then arise about the possibility of manipulating AI algorithms which could lead to the malicious use of personal information. Who would bear the responsibility in that case?

UNCANNY VALUES explores different perspectives, values and problems in the relationship of our culture and the ever-changing technology and questions how we can ensure that it develops in a socially, economically, and environmentally viable way in the future.

One of the artists, Lynn Hershman Leeson, who has spoken more in-depth to CLOT about her work, has created two AI humanoids who learn through voice and face recognition and can interact with people.

(Media courtesy of MAK)
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