A is for An Other: Beyond Artificial Intelligences

With Maya Indira Ganesh

06.01.20  13.01.20  20.01.20  03.02.20  10.02.20  24.02.20 

A discomfort with the words ‘artificial’ and ‘intelligence’ strung together as a powerful imaginary, AI, is where this seminar begins. If AI is artificial, what is the natural or original? In 1987 a computer was considered ‘intelligent’ because it beat the world’s highest ranked Chess player. Now, a computer program is considered to be intelligent if it can drive a car. Intelligence is a moving target if defined by tasks like perception, pattern recognition, language processing or prediction.

Drawing from Francisco Varela who says that an emphasis on cognition as the manipulation of symbols, as “a representation by a discrete mind of a preexisting, separate world”, is mistaken, this seminar will engage with non-human (animal, mineral, silicon-based, plant-based, synthetic) and human entanglements, and how they challenge dualist ontologies of separation of nature/culture, mind/body, emotion/reason, among others. Can we imagine measures outside ‘intelligence’, or non-human intelligence, intelligence sans a brain or digital processing? What do these mean for how we might re-think what it means to be human?

A variety of non- US American/Eurocentric knowledge systems and phenomenologies have long offered practices and metaphors to exist against these dualisms. This seminar will invite participants to engage with a variety of such texts, artworks, design projects and films. Participants will be invited to contribute entries for a visual and textual dictionary of technology and society that tests our beliefs in what Arturo Escobar terms as fundamental to the modern onto-epistemic, rationalist order: the individual, science, the economy and the real.

Maya Indira Ganesh is a technology researcher and writer with a hybrid portfolio of work across cultural organisations, academia and NGOs. She has two Masters degrees; and her ongoing doctoral research investigates the interaction of computational techniques with cultural narratives in the construction of machine autonomy, AI, and the evolving role of the human in this. In May 2019 she became a research associate at the Artificial Intelligence and Media Philosophy research group at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HfG) on a one-year Volkswagen Foundation grant,‘AI and the Society of the Future’. Maya comes to a PhD after 15 years as a researcher and writer working at the intersection of human rights, gender and technology with Tactical Tech, the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, UNICEF India, and the APC Women’s Rights Program. In this time she has worked on projects about gender, feminism and technology; big data and discrimination; digital security and privacy in human rights defence; and visual cultures of digital activism.