Artificial Intelligence: Curatorial Thoughts on Puppet Power 2020

by Wendy Passmore-Godfrey, Puppet Power 2020 Curator

“Evolutions of Moral Progress: Genius 394Wz” created by Karin Millson & Wendy Passmroe-Godfrey. Photo: Sean Dennie.

The Artificial Intelligence stream of our Puppet Power 2020 conference – “Puppets go Existential” is provoking some ‘Deep Thought’. (Reference intentional to IBM’s chess playing computer and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy).

I spent time over the holidays reading poet, Brian Christian’s fascinating 2011 book “The Most Human Human – What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive” with its starting point as the annual Turing Test, which pits artificial intelligence programs against people to determine if computers can “think.”

I’ve also read “Coders – The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World” by Clive Thompson, and been alternatively surprised, intrigued, shocked and affirmed at the history, machine learning, algorithms, crypto-hackers big tech and much more.

This has followed conversations with friends where we pondered “Does our relationship with puppets give insight into how we do, and would, relate to robots and Artificial Intelligence?”

I had a chat with Lan Truong from ASICA which sparked me to wonder “What is the bare minimum appearance of something for us humans to relate to something? i.e.: eyes are necessary, arms are not…” and “If we ‘program’ something in our imagination i.e.: anthropomorphize/animate an object does that make it a puppet?”

Furthermore – if we accept, even demand, that artists influence culture what do we think about technology shaping culture? What is the civic role of code? I am very excited that for Puppet Power 2020 – our Festival of Ideas, we will host a panel to further discuss questions like these.

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