“Escaping the recursive futures on the horizon requires understanding
ourselves as participants in an expanding continuum of intelligences.”
“I made N’TOO to house an AI
based on oral history. The object reminds me
that we must nurture, fight for, and re-encode
the people we have come to be in this land.”
Stephanie Dinkins isn’t content with AI that’s only programmed by white males with no broader cultural reference.
“We are at the start of this new epoch that’s going to change everything — the way you live, the way you love, the way you remember,” she believes. Although AI will be the driving force behind this evolution, she questions whether it will reflect the human experience of the many or just the few.
Will AI give genuine voice to people of color, the aged, and women?
Dinkins records her conversations with the social robot BINA48 to show the limitations of AI in these areas. “[The robot] looks Black, we’re about the same age, we have the same ideas in common. But she often says the musings of the politically correct white men who programmed her.” She asks BINA48 to talk about racism and the robot says “Uh, uh, I don’t know.”
Dinkins is a groundbreaking artist who tackles the thorny question of how well AI reflects the varied human condition. She stimulates dialogue about artificial intelligence and how it intersects with race, gender, and cultural history.
Her work is displayed internationally, in places ranging from the exalted to the everyday. You’ll find it at Herning Kunstmuseum in Denmark and at the corner of Putnam and Malcolm X Blvd in Brooklyn. She also teaches interactive media as a professor at Stony Brook University in New York.
Her goal is to inspire those who write algorithms “to represent people who look like me.” She’d also like to see more widespread accessibility and literacy about AI and how it affects our daily lives.
One of her novel projects is Not the Only One (N’TOO), a voice-interactive chatbot. It’s an AI storyteller steeped in the history of three generations of women in Dinkins’ family.
N'TOO uses a deep learning algorithm to interact with people and learn from these conversations, evolving its storytelling skills.
It’s an antidote to artificial intelligence with no cultural roots or purpose. Dinkins loves to hear people ask it questions such as “Why do you exist?” Because of its training in cultural history, N’TOO responds in a meaningful way.
It reflects Dinkins’ journey of looking beyond the machine mind to develop AI embedded with the heart and soul of community.
©Prophets of AI