Lying Sophia and Mocking Alexa

YUZ Museum
Exhibition
Lying Sophia and Mocking Alexa:

Exhibition

Lying Sophia and Mocking Alexa

Time: 14.11.2020-31.01.2021
Location: Yuz Museum Shanghai, No.35 Fenggu Road

 

(Shanghai—November 13, 2020) Yuz Museum Shanghai is pleased to present Lying Sophia and Mocking Alexa, an exhibition exploring the relationship between humans and machines within the framework of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Opening to the public on November 14, 2020, the exhibition brings together artists and researchers examining the topic from a variety of perspectives including the impact of AI on global technopolitics and on geologies, the absurdity of quantifying human emotion, the dark labor involved in training “human-like” algorithms and the myth-like narratives about AI propagated by the media. The exhibition is curated by Iris Long, the 2018 winner in “Sustainability” of the Hyundai Blue Prize which aims to explain the profound impact of technological change on human consciousness and society.

 

Lying Sophia and Mocking Alexa

"Sophia" and "Alexa", transformed into text and audio by the GPT-2 model AI software, are the two central characters in Lying Sophia and Mocking Alexa. With three dimensional dialogues taking place throughout the exhibition, they serve to interpret the subject of AI, which is paradoxical and implies manifold future potentials. Sophia, a robot that has been granted Saudi citizenship, is highly responsive and has a realistic human look. A life-like robot living among us, she can even conduct diplomacy and is seen as an "ambiguous scam" co-authored by media and technology companies. Alexa is a "servant" who takes the shape of a machine and resides in domestic corners. She has been reported to have "horrible laughter," symbolizing the opacity, uncontrollability and dangerous potential of the AI “black-box" to slide into voyeurism and subversion. The existence of Sophia and Alexa and the dialogue between them allow the audience to experience the exhibition as a voyeur, witnessing the fullness, imponderability and last hope of the psychological world.

 

"Lying Sophia and Mocking Alexa", installation view of Yuz Museum, 2020

As a bystander, the exhibition leads us to question: if artificial intelligence is no longer purely a concept of science fiction and if the development of basic science continues to expand the boundaries of our cognition, will what we are experiencing be the black hole event horizon that, as Vernor Vinge foresees, "breaks all prophecies" or serves as "the biggest mistake we have ever made" as indicated by Stephen Hawking? Looking back at the history of human development, we have rarely encountered something that contains the various paradoxes of AI, or a topic that similarly points to infinite possible futures in the changing world of science and technology. Today, AI is widely used in chips, processors, data collection and analysis, forming a new frontier in global technological competition. However, outside of technology industries, it is still not easy to know directly what products and programs utilize AI as it becomes the easiest, but also the hardest story to tell in mass media.

 

In the exhibition, Sophia and Alexa are contemporary metaphors for our evolving relationship to these new technologies. The former’s lies are the projection of poetic imagination –a bright, lyrical imagination. While the latter's ridicule demonstrates cracks in the black-box algorithm, representing a murky existence fraught with technical criticism. They are both in a hazy, complicated situation, similar to the concept of "La Zona" in Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 Stalker. In this film, the stalker leads a writer and a scientist to journey by cable car, through a chase with the police to traverse tunnels dripping with water, to detour rooms filled with sand dunes, and finally to approach the core of "La Zona": a "Room" that makes beliefs reality. The writer is concerned about the dark side of human nature that the Room suggests, while the scientist wishes to destroy the Room to protect it from allowing those with bad intentions to take advantage. Lying Sophia and Mocking Alexa sets up a metaphorical "La Zona" which embodies our contemporary situation: a time-space where both science and art are simultaneously deprived of the power of autocracy and narrative-building, constantly filled with the deliberation of the writer and the scientist.


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