Explore the world of artificial intelligence in ‘AI: More than Human’ at the Barbican

Artificial Intelligence is a reality. Once the stuff of science fiction, we are confronted with AI in one form or another on a daily basis. Yet, our understanding of a robotic future, the possibilities and dangers, are confused. It is easy to fall into a negative dialogue of man versus machine, utopia or dystopia, but the reality of living with AI is much more complex.

AI: More Than Human What a Loving and Beautiful World, © teamLab 18. AI: More Than Human What a Loving and Beautiful World, © teamLab

‘AI: More than Human’ (16 May–26 August 2019) sets out to explore our relationship with machine past, present and future. This sprawling study at the Barbican Centre is immersive and interactive. It tells the rapidly developing story of AI, from its ancient roots in Japanese Shintoism, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage’s early experiments in computing, to the major developmental leaps from the 1940s and onto the present day. The exhibition looks at the intersection of nature and technology and proposes the question: is the future more of a utopia or dystopia?

AI: More Than Human PoemPortraits by Es Devlin, courtesy of the artist

We learn of a computer named AlphaGo, which in 2016 taught itself the ancient game of Go by trial and error to beat the world’s best human player. The exhibit sits alongside cultural products such as Frankenstein and Bladerunner. There are letters by the prophet of AI, Alan Turing from the 1950s here, whilst real robots are on display including Attila and the Mobot by MIT – both created in the early 1990s. There are contemporary artworks here too, as well as robotic toys, Japanese manga and woodblock prints.

AI: More Than Human Makr Shakr, © Makr Shakr 20. AI: More Than Human

The Barbican has gathered an astonishing body of work for this exhibition. Viewers can take a closer look at some of the most prominent and cutting-edge research projects. Google Arts & Culture and Alphabet have commissioned a number of installations, including ‘PoemPortraits’ – an interactive artwork by the artist Es Devlin.

AI More than Human, Alter 3 © Hiroshi Ishiguro, Takashi Ikegami and Itsuki Doi - photo Credit Tristan Fewings Getty Images

The festival-style exhibition raises some topical issues of what it means to be human, what is consciousness, will machines ever outsmart a human, and how can humans and machines work collaboratively in the future. ‘AI: More than Human’ is a survey of creative and scientific developments in artificial intelligence. Ultimately, it is a prelude to a much-needed provocative dialogue on the subject.

All images are subject to copyright. In order of appearance: ‘What a Loving and Beautiful World’ © eamLab 18; ‘PoemPortraits’ ©Es Devlin’; robotic bar, ©Makr Shakr; ‘Alter 3’ © Hiroshi Ishiguro, Takashi Ikegami, Itsuki Doi – photo ©Tristan Fewings/Getty Images; ‘Hype Cycle: Machine Learning’ ©Universal Everything.

AI: More Than Human Hype Cycle: Machine Learning, © Universal Everything.
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