The Temporality of Artificial Intelligence

Quam Proxime | As near as may be

Nothing sounds more futuristic than artificial intelligence (AI). Our predictions about the future of AI are largely shaped by science fiction. Go to any conference, skim any WIRED article, peruse any gallery of stock images depicting AI*, and you can’t help but imagine AI as a disembodied cyberbabe (as in Spike Jonze’s Her), a Tin Man (who just wanted a heart!) gone rogue (as in the Terminator), or, my personal favorite, a brain out-of-the-vat-like-a-fish-out-of-water-and-into-some-non-brain-appropriate-space-like-a-robot-hand-or-an-android-intestine (as in Krang in the Ninja Turtles).

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 9.11.35 AM A legit AI marketing photo!

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 9.12.33 AM Krang should be the AI mascot, not the Terminator!

The truth is, AI looks more like this:

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 9.16.46 AM A slide from Pieter Abbeel’s lecture at MILA’s Reinforcement Learning Summer School.

Of course, it takes domain expertise to picture just what kind of embodied AI product such formal mathematical equations would create. Visual art, argued Gene Kogan, a cosmopolitan coder-artist, may just be the best…

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