Human ± Technology at Tate Modern – will technology enslave us or save us?  A project of UAL’s Digital Maker Collective.

Chelsea Fine Art postgraduate student, Irina Starkova has created this blog to tell us more about the project. Irina’s current practice explores the problem of other minds and personal identity. She is a member of the Digital Maker Collective and is currently involved in projects which explore the human condition through interaction with AI, VR and Gaming.

INTERROGATOR: Okay, fair enough, I’ll stop with the slang. How are you?

ELBOT: Just a moment! I’ll start my self-diagnosis algorithm and let you know the results.

INTERROGATOR: Very funny, that’s exactly what you’d say if you were a computer, right?

This was one of the conversations that happened at the Loebner competition aiming to find the best conversational machine. The format of the event was to have a human and a machine pitted against each other. The task of the interrogator was to figure out which was the human and which was the machine. In this instance the computer pulled off a double bluff and the interrogator was fooled into thinking it was human.

The point of the competition was to address Turing’s question – “Can a machine think?” or indeed “Is a machine intelligent?” – Turing wanted to create a test to see whether you could converse with a computer and think that you were speaking to a human. He believed that by the year 2000 it would be possible to programme computers in this way.

Irina Starkova playing the Mental Arm Wrestle Game with Sky News’ Gemma Evans

Irina Starkova playing the Mental Arm Wrestle Game with Sky News’ Gemma Evans

This example shows that computers aren’t far off from humans, they can hold a conversation, crack a joke and even fool some into believing they are human. Computers outperform humans in many ways, however, there are some things like communication, for example, where computers are not quite there yet.

These issues made me want to explore technology and art, and see if and how they might link together and whether computers are able to perform creative tasks. Even if computers cannot mimic us – can they help us in some other way?

I have been working with the Gaming Group which is part of the Digital Maker Collective which consists of a group of artists and designers from UAL. We are exploring emerging digital technologies in arts, education and society and seeing how we can incorporate them into our arts practices.

We are doing a week long “digital immersion” at the Tate Modern from 6-11 March where we will be presenting our work alongside global collaborators from Russia, China and Denmark.

Young Visitors playing with our creative robot Picasso 2.0

Young Visitors playing with our creative robot Picasso 2.0

We will be running several projects throughout the week on AI, VR, Gaming and Robotics. There will be plenty of opportunity to discuss topics such as “Is Technology Killing our Creativity?” and speaking to a Bionic Art Student Robot to see how far creativity can be automated.

Visitors will also have an opportunity to get hands-on with technology exploration and rapid prototyping. There will be lighting installations, the Movement group will give you a chance to experience the physicality of sound in a new way by touching a variety of conductive objects to trigger a range of sounds. The Gaming group have created an interactive puzzle which can be constructed in VR and you will also have a chance to compete in a “mental arm wrestle” using brainwaves instead of muscle power to beat your opponent.

Visitors playing the Mental Arm Wrestle at Tate Exchange

Visitors playing the Mental Arm Wrestle at Tate Exchange

Please  come and join the project and share your thoughts with us.

Tate Exchange – Arts work of the Future  is on 6-11 MARCH 2018 at Tate Modern, 5th Floor, Blavatnik Building, SE1 9TG. Opening hours are 12.00-6.00pm

Tate Exchange is an annual programme that brings together international artists and over 60 partners who work with visitors to take them on a journey of discovery into the different ways that art has become active over the last 60 years and how artists have changed our understanding of what art can be and what it can do.

To find out more about the the Digital Maker Collective’s involvement in the Tate Exchange visit the gallery’s webpages.