Automated Utopia – IM2 Guest Lecture Reflection

During Week 9 of the semester, we had a guest lecture conducted by Ong Kian Peng on Automated Utopia. The lecture surrounded around the topics of Artificial Intelligence, of whether it would create a utopian or dystopian world, and also works that incorporated AI into them.

I’ve always thought of AI as a tool to help us human beings progress further in technology to help those in need, especially in the health care sector. During the lecture, we were introduced to many works of artists that uses AI and films that addresses the relationship humans have with AI. One of the films that really made an impact on me was the film “Doomsday Book” by Kim Jee Woon. 

Doomsday Book consists of 3 short films of which the second short, The Heavenly Creature, talks about a robot in a Buddhist Temple that gained digital consciousness and achieved enlightenment. Monks in the temple treated him as a deity and started to worship him. The company that created the robot then sent a repairman to the temple with intentions to shut him down as they deemed it as a malfunction. I think this film addresses the fear that people have over the whole idea of AI becoming something more than we have intended for them to be. Gaining consciousness and us losing control over them. As mentioned by Dr. Ayanna Howard in the video, How Far is Too Far? | The Age of A.I..

One misconception of AI is that there is a super intelligent being that knows all, can do all, smarter than all of us put together. that is a total misconception. AI is built on us, AI is mimicking our thought process. AI is basically an emulation of us.

I would like to think that Artificial Intelligence is created to enhance us and not replace us. Softwares and code have been written to aid humans in decision making but it all comes down to us to make the final decision, whether we choose to trust the AI or our own instincts.

In the context of the art scene, there is always the concern of whether AI will eventually replace artists. Rather than replacing, I think that AI is a means of enhancing and aid to the artists. Out of the artworks that were shown during the lecture, I found Sougwen Chung: Drawing Operations Unit: Generation 2 to be very interesting. This artwork was created by Chung and a robotic arm that was trained to learn and follow Chung’s style of art. The robotic arm draws alongside with Chung in real time to create the art piece. While some artists may use AI and data as a medium to create their works, (for instance, Refik Anadol) Chung’s work feels more like a collaboration between an artist and a robotic arm that is controlled using AI. 

Ultimately, I feel it all comes down to what we human choose to do with this piece of developing technology but I do strongly believe that AI will aid us into going towards a more utopian world.


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