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Jan 14, 2020

The impact of AI and other emerging technologies is of great interest to artists, who translate that interest into insights about where the world is heading. Transmedia artist Stephanie Dinkins shares her work and insights.

We go through our lives, ubiquitously using technologies like Alexa and Netflix, without critically thinking about the impacts that machine learning and other emerging technologies have on today and tomorrow. Stephanie’s art, as well as live event projects that create dialog and participation from experts and every citizens alike, strive to make us aware of and active in how we think about and engage with our technology - being particularly mindful about issues of representation, bias, and empowerment.

Memorable Quotes

“Not The Only One is talking a lot about ‘the would be’. So if you ask it a question it will say, ‘Take it to the would be.’ And I always marvel at that, because it seems to be offering this idea that you take it to this thing that I'm not quite sure what it's talking about, but the advice feels sound, and also feels in line with the way that my family and ancestors might answer that question.”


“If this is one example of this technology, are there others that represent people of color in a way? Are there others that represent different cultures and attitudes in different ways? How are they programmed, and what does this mean for the world?”

“She is a system that is representationally one thing, but perhaps is informed by coders who are not completely in line what her representation might be.”

“I've been able to step into this arena, learn by doing, and then have a voice in terms of trying to get people to think about ideas of bias and equity and ethical thinking and inclusion in the AI sphere.”

 “And long run, really being involved in the making of the systems so that at least there are a multitude of different ways of being and ways of existing in the world, to start questioning how the system are working, what data they're based on, and bringing up why that might be a problem.”

“Not The Only One is my attempt at making a memoir of my family through artificial intelligence. And the original idea was to take three generations of women from the family, have us all talk to each other, do oral histories, transcribe that information, feed it into a recursive neural network, or a chat bot system, and allow others to question it so that they get to know us and our values and ideas.”

“I also think that there's a space where we get to interrogate and question the systems and think a little deeper about not only using those systems, but changing them.”

“We need to find ways to make technologies that seem really inaccessible and perhaps not for certain communities feel like they are accessible, and find ways then to use them.”

“I've come to the conclusion that in the short run specifically, the data is going to be the thing that we need to be conscious of.”

“I feel like the story of my family is a very specific one that has some specificities that we would like to share in a certain way, and that I don't want to be lost even to a next generation. And a way to hold onto that is to build it into a system that will be going on and engaging other systems. And so I do this work hoping that will hang around, and hoping that we don't just get overrun by whatever it is makes it most expedient to get to the information or ideas that are out there.”

“We seem to be creating a world through algorithms and artificially intelligent systems that - it's gonna really form and inform the way the world functions going forward.”

“I was talking to this robot and questioning her and we were having conversations, and it became clear to me that some of the things I was looking for were not in her.”

“I happen to think that we're entering a time where artists and everyone else are going to have to be learning all the time.”


Who You'll Hear

Dirk Knemeyer, Social Futurist and Producer of Creative Next (@dknemeyer)

Jonathan Follett, Writer, Electronic Musician, Emerging Tech Researcher and Producer of Creative Next (@jonfollett)

Stephanie Dinkins, Artist & Associate Professor, Stony Brook University (@StephDink)


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