AI & Art
WHAT IF a friendly alien race landed on earth?(!) They’d surely be curious to learn about our civilization--what we’ve achieved so far, and how. If we managed to convince ourselves that we could coexist on this planet with these aliens, we’d try to explain them our science and technology, hoping that they’d help us answer our remaining questions and solve our ever-increasing problems. We’d of course have to go into our history, ethics, and politics, as well… But how about art?
Given that the aliens would presumably have a very different “intelligence” than ours, would we still be able to introduce them to our art, and have them grasp it in their own terms? Could we possibly motivate them to create art--independently, or in collaboration with us? And is it conceivable that this would lead to new perspectives (and new understanding) about the aliens, about ourselves, and the universe we live in?
Clearly, all this knowledge production would be subject to the aliens’ intelligence as well as our ability to communicate with them, and articulate our own "understanding" of art. Unfortunately, aliens aren't easy to get a hold of in order to test these questions. Yet, artificial intelligence (AI) offers a form of alien intelligence that we now can experiment with.
In this project, we will explore our ability to teach art to AI; have it generate some evidence of its understanding; and then analyze and interpret its response. We will start with a simple "lesson," and gradually develop its content and complexity in an iterative process. Similar to the hypothetical case with the friendly aliens, the quality of the interactions and the respective outcomes will depend on both the technical capabilities of AI, as well as our own human ingenuity/limitations in communicating with it.