Where do we encounter (artificial) intelligence in our everyday media consumption? To accompany the launch of our Spring 2020_#Intelligence issue, we have asked our editorial team for their recommendations – from television to literature, from gaming to art.
Westworld, Altered Carbon or Black Mirror: (artificial) intelligence has become an important element of highly praised television series. Victoria Pastor-González and Lavinia Brydon contribute two more examples:
“I have been enjoying the Brazilian series Onisciente (Netflix, 2020). It is set in a near future in which each citizen is monitored 24/7 by a tiny wasp-shaped drone and a central supercomputer uses the data and AI to figure out if crimes have been committed. When the computer doesn’t label the death of her father as murder, the protagonist Nina decides to hack into the system and solve the crime. This is a good genre piece, a Black Mirror inspired whodunit, that nevertheless exemplifies what I call the Netflix ‘botox effect’. All references to local culture are carefully ironed out, so we are left with a satisfactory product that nevertheless leaves you with a vaguely synthetic aftertaste.” – Victoria Pastor-González (Section Editor Book Reviews)
“Like most of my friends and colleagues in the UK and Ireland, I have recently watched the twelve-part television adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People. What I found particularly intriguing about the adaptation is how the audio-visual medium of television successfully conveyed the abstract notion of #intelligence and its various forms – from the characters’ clear academic capabilities to their difficulties with emotional intelligence — without resorting to descriptive dialogue.” – Lavinia Brydon (Section Editor Book Reviews)
From science fiction classics to contemporary literature: Toni Pape and Linda Kopitz recommend two recent novels interrogating artificial intelligence and humanity – in two very different ways:
“In her latest novel Frankissstein, Jeannette Winterson rewrites Mary Shelley’s classic to think about artificial intelligence and what it means for humanity. Jeanette Winterson in this interview: “There will also be, when it’s created, pure artificial intelligence. Which will mean that we’re not the smartest thing on the planet anymore. And as the book [Frankissstein] discusses, you know, would that really be such a bad thing? Because we haven’t been great at being Masters of the Universe.” – Toni Pape (Editorial Board Member)
“Exit Strategy, the last installment of the Murderbot Series by Martha Wells, tells the story of what it means to be human – from the perspective of a (fairly snarky) machine. As one reviewer phrases it: “Come for the gunfights on other planets, but stay for the finely drawn portrait of a deadly robot whose smartass goodness will give you hope for the future of humanity.” – Linda Kopitz (Editorial Assistant)
Artificial intelligence and gaming have been intertwined for decades – starting with the use of chess as a marker of intelligence. But is there something as ‘too intelligent’?
“Alien: Isolation (A:I) is a game in which the player controls Ripley’s daughter Amanda and has to stealthily avoid the eponymous monster. The developers of A:I intended to imbue their alien with an unprecedented level of AI that allows the alien to constantly adapt to the player’s actions. This alien is really intelligent! As some commentators have noted, it might be too intelligent to be enjoyable: ‘I’ve talked with plenty of people over the years about “good game AI.” I’ve had developers and critics alike tell me that good AI is impossible, because, to them, good AI is what is technically known as “strong AI”, or AI that is essentially as smart, if not smarter than a human. Personally, I don’t think that’s good game AI. Good game AI is that which makes a game enjoyable to play. A strong AI would be more like another player, with the same goals a player has: it wants to win. Good game AI doesn’t want to win, it wants to make you earn your win.” – Toni Pape (Editorial Board Member)
Expanding on these pop cultural examples, Lavinia Brydon and Greg de Cuir connect the theme #Intelligence to artistic and activist interventions:
“Alice C. Helliwell and Eleen M. Deprez along with AI technologies (e.g. DeepDream, EyeEm, Google Vision) recently put together the exhibition AI and I: An Experiment in Curating for the University of Kent’s Studio 3 Gallery. AI was used to select works from the Kent Print collection, arrange them within the gallery space, offer a critic’s interpretation and even write some of the exhibition notes. The exhibition’s foregrounding of AI’s creative abilities continues to sit – often uneasily – with me.” – Lavinia Brydon (Section Editor Book Reviews)
“Great work is being done on the Rhizome blog. I particularly enjoyed this recent entry ‘Digital Resources for a Movement Against Police Violence’, which is a valuable guide to helping the 21st century activist protest with #Intelligence.” – Greg de Cuir Jr (Editorial Board Member