About white men and machines

AI: Recent developments in the field of intelligent machines clearly demand a reflection. The latest book by Arthur I. Miller is dedicated to this, but it only partially fulfills its promise.

Melita Zajc
Melita Zajc is a media anthropologist and philosopher. Regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: May 23, 2020
The Artist in the Machine: The World of AI-Powered Creativity
Author: Arthur I. Miller
MIT Press,

Humans are slowly merging with machines. We have a most intimate relationship with microcomputers in our cell phones; computers are being used in driverless cars; we are surrounded by devices, from remote-controlled refrigerators to heating systems, all connected via the web into the so-called internet of things (IoT) and underpinned by computer systems performing tasks that we call artificial intelligence (AI). The belief that machine intelligence can never reach the complexity of the human mind has become obsolete as «machines can increasingly teach themselves how to perform complex tasks that not long ago were thought to require the unique intelligence of humans.» Questions about computers having emotions and feeling fear are not mere science fiction anymore. The possibility that the intelligence of machines will surpass that of humans, and what might be its consequences, raises concern. Unlike dystopian scenarios about the downside of AI in movies, newspapers, and his fellow scholars’ writings, Arthur l. Miller promises to «explore the upside of AI: its cultural side, what its creativity holds in store».

The focus on creativity is the main advantage of his book, The Artist in the Machine. In it, Miller interviewed key players developing AI that creates art, literature, and music and has collected a broad spectrum of contemporary computer artists and their most important works, providing an interesting insight into the field of computer arts. From computers, generating intricate fictional plots in literature, to neural networks generating extraordinary new sounds, composing experimental and avant-garde music, and to convolutional ones with the ability to recognise faces, find patterns in data and power driverless cars, but can also produce images not programmed into them. From the world’s first computer-composed musical Beyond the Fence (2016) by Benjamin Till and Nathan Taylor to the photographic portraits of non-existent people in

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