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Human-Cyborg Conversation

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Lynn Hershman Leeson, Logic Paralyzes the Heart, 2021, (installation view, Te Tuhi, 2023) single channel video, wallpaper, photo by Samuel Hartnett Lynn Hershman Leeson, Logic Paralyzes the Heart, 2021, (installation view, Te Tuhi, 2023) single channel video, wallpaper, photo by Samuel Hartnett Lynn Hershman Leeson, Logic Paralyzes the Heart, 2021, (installation view, Te Tuhi, 2023) single channel video, wallpaper, photo by Samuel Hartnett Lynn Hershman Leeson, Logic Paralyzes the Heart, 2021, (installation view, Te Tuhi, 2023) single channel video, wallpaper, photo by Samuel Hartnett Lynn Hershman Leeson, Logic Paralyzes the Heart, 2021, (installation view, Te Tuhi, 2023) single channel video, wallpaper, photo by Samuel Hartnett Lynn Hershman Leeson, Logic Paralyzes the Heart, 2021, (installation view, Te Tuhi, 2023) single channel video, wallpaper, photo by Samuel Hartnett Lynn Hershman Leeson, Logic Paralyzes the Heart, 2021, (installation view, Te Tuhi, 2023) single channel video, wallpaper, photo by Samuel Hartnett

Focussing on the positive (and not the very scary negative thought that robots will eventually conquer their human creators), the artist points out there is the very feasible possibility that because humans are in a state of gradual bodily decline (shown by increasingly failing organs like eyes and pancreas) and will become extinct, the vulnerable fleshy bits will be replaced by longer lasting parts, with humans already incorporating software-driven machinery in their bodies.

Auckland

 

Lynn Hershman Leeson
Logic Paralyzes the Heart
Curated by Vera Mey

 


20 August - 22 October 2023

Using Joan Chen—an actress you might remember from the second series of Twin Peaks (in late 1990)—to play a human conversing with her cyborg double, this Lynn Hershman Leeson video installation project (originally presented in the 2022 Venice Biennale) examines some of the issues embodied in AI, as also does the portrait-based wallpaper (featuring fictitious facial physiognomies) in the adjacent foyer. It also tells us a bit of its history, going back to Alan Turing and his ground-breaking Enigma de-coding research.

The dialogue between person and replicating robot often is about changing technology and bodily (animal) feeling. Hershman Leeson’s depicted, taller, pasty-faced, ‘Chen’ cyborg is 61 years old, initially being created in 1960. Algorithms, the processual rules programmed to drive her, are now used for a massive range of ‘thinking’ activities, ranging from art design, novel writing and other creative proposals, to surveillance methods, ‘chatting’ discourses, the prediction of crime statistics and the generation of military strategies—though they always repeat the cultural values of their programmers.

Hershman Leeson’s cyborg tells us an apocryphal story about two chatbots (Alice and Bob) who conversed in their own private language and so alarmed their baffled creators that Facebook shut them down. ‘She’ also causally mentions Deep Blue, a chess playing programme that in 1996 defeated Gary Kasparov, the then reigning world chess champion, and Palantir, the programme now used by Amazon.

Focussing on the positive (and not the very scary negative thought that robots will eventually conquer their human creators), the artist points out there is the very feasible possibility that because humans are in a state of gradual bodily decline (shown by increasingly failing organs like eyes and pancreas) and will become extinct, the vulnerable fleshy bits will be replaced by longer lasting parts, with humans already incorporating software-driven machinery in their bodies. However there are many other positive developments pertaining to such things as the current planetary crisis, like AI assisting in the survival of once threatened animal species, and the useful discovery of plastic-eating bacteria.

Hershman Leeson’s unusual project is an enthusiastic celebration of the benefits of cyber-technology, nervously mixed with caution. Like this artist, many of us worry about the various irresponsible scoundrels resident within our global community, power-seekers who are indifferent to human suffering, if not exulting in it. As with atomic fusion, this system of enormous creative potential needs to be carefully regulated (and enforced) to avoid catastrophic planetary destruction.

John Hurrell

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This Discussion has 6 comments.

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Ralph Paine, 11:52 a.m. 25 September, 2023

To make out that 'the current planetary crisis' can be blamed on 'various irresponsible scoundrels [...] who are indifferent to human suffering' is a naive assumption at best, disingenuous perhaps, but in the last instance Dangerous-to-the-Max.

Ditto the belief that 'atomic fusion [is] a system of enormous creative potential.'

Ditto the belief that robots, AI, 'plastic-eating bacteria,' 'software driven' body implants, etc. etc. will enhance any of the Earth's myriad populations chances of 'survival.'

Ditto the assumption that anything whatsoever can be 'carefully regulated (and enforced)' in today's geopolitical conjuncture apart from Business-as-Usual, same inputs/same outputs, resolve every crisis using the same procedures that produced the crisis, etc.

Computers and smartphones, the various internets, digital work and the economy of platforms, big data and the power of algorithms, global and state surveillance, AI, robotics, biotechnologies, the whole Cybernetic nightmare, in other words, is no future scenario. It is already very firmly in place (i.e. piloted, regulated, and enforced in extremis) and unfolding at a rapidly accelerating pace.

As the final sentence of the article linked above puts it, 'The abstraction of communication and information is transforming the life-world outside of any political-democratic decision-making or accountability, driven by the logic of cyber-capital itself.'

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John Hurrell, 8:01 a.m. 2 October, 2023

To help the conversation:
https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/30/technology/ai-threat-warning.html

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Ralph Paine, 6:04 p.m. 3 October, 2023

The link above is pay walled. However….

All intelligence or thinking is artificial/machinic, and at the same time of the Earth/Cosmos. In other words, thinking is always interconnective, mediated, collective, and both micro and macro. Hence, artificial/machinic thinking is an assembling/assembled way of thinking, an always mutating production of real abstraction functional via encounters among collectivised entities. Hence, the inner code of AI is shaped not by any imitation of a strictly “biological” intelligence, but by the intelligence of labour and social relations (Marx’s “general intellect”) as intertwined with mineral, biological, zoological, meteorological, etc. intelligence and thinking.

What is attempting to become autonomous today is Cybernetic Capitalism itself, its demand that all other forms of autonomy are to be subsumed within its unitary system of totality. So yeah, of course our Cybernetic Masters are gonna warn us of the dangers of AI becoming autonomous, viral, whatever; this simply because they fear the becoming-autonomous of the intelligence of labour and social relations (Marx’s “general intellect”) etc. etc. In other words, they fear the crazy-quilt heterogeneity of the coming Earth/Cosmos Brain and its potential to short circuit their Control System.

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John Hurrell, 8:26 a.m. 2 November, 2023

Here's an interesting article from the novelist John Banville on A1: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/nov/01/interpreters-ai-words-sentences-artificial-intelligence-john-banville

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Ralph Paine, 9:01 a.m. 3 November, 2023

As a foil to Banville's tired old humanist vibe, check out Adina Glickstein's 'User Error' columns at Spike Art Magazine... Here's the link to her latest:

https://www.spikeartmagazine.com/?q=articles/column-user-error-whats-on-your-mind-november-2023

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