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A friend of mine mentioned this recent discussion between two multimedia artists on social media about “AI Data Sculptures.” My friend misremembered the term as “AI Sculpture” and my immediate reaction was, what the heck is an “AI Sculpture” anyway? 

Simplified view of Reality

Why the term “AI sculpture” feels weird, let’s dive into that now.

->Side kick: In my previous post titled How do you make music with Artificial Intelligence?, I give a brief introduction and readings about AI. I am passing those discussions here. The type of AI myself and these artists are using in their work is Applied Artificial Intelligence (autonomous software), not General Artificial Intelligence (the kind that would conquer the world). 

Some prefer the term autonomous agents instead of AI. The term AI is problematic because it creates this notion that there is an intelligence related to the autonomous software. I think these new algorithms are nothing but fancy autonomous software. Although we may percieve some behaviours that are generated by autonomous software intelligent, it is arguable to call these software “intelligent”.

Why the hell did I start talking about agents? The simplified view of reality has three components: agents, objects, and the environment. Agents and objects situate in the environment. Objects are static, they do not react to the changes in the environment, they do not interact with other objects. Agents can act on the enviroment, react to the changes in the environment, and interact with other agents.  

Let me explain reactivity and interactivity briefly. First, let’s give an example of reactive behaviour using house cleaning.  Let’s say that you are a clean and tidy person. You (agent) desire to keep your house clean. Your house (environment) has become dirty (changes in the environment), you (agent) realize this at some point (agent’s perception). Since you (agentintend to live in a clean house, you (agentplan to clean your house. Your cleaning plan includes actions, such as preparing the cleaning supplies, cleaning one room at a time etc.

What would be interactivity then? Interactive behaviour happens between agents. Let’s say that you start cleaning your house. You move a furniture, and there is a mice running out. You immediately stop cleaning and run out of the house at least two blocks. By running towards you, mice have changed your actions that are planned previously. By moving the furniture, you made a change in mice’s behaviour, and it run away from you to find another hiding spot. Notice that this is different than reactivity. After you see the mice, you don’t give a heck about the cleaning anymore, you just run away full speed.      

When we mention the term sculpture, my immediate imagination is objects. You may think that the examples of Kinetic Sculptures contradicts the idea that a sculpture is an object. Although Kinetic Sculptures are moving and dynamic, they do not exhibit agent behaviours such as proactivity, reactivity, or interactivity. If the artwork exhibits reactive and interactive behaviours, then we move towards the realm of Interactive Arts.
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