The residency-artist is always selected by an interdisciplinary jury. Jurors coming from the arts evaluate the submissions in an artistic way of thinking, representatives of the Ars Electronica Futurelab judge the submitted ideas in thinking on the possibilities of technical realization and beside that members of the scientific partners are assessing the projects on what is possible within the scientific work carried out at the different scientific facilities.
Martin Honzik, director of the Ars Electronica Festival:
The aim of a jury is basically to find those projects or protagonists from a certain number of possibilities that best fit the given framework conditions. This task is responsibility enough in itself. However, the concrete case represents a special situation due to the special orientation and constellation of the partners, their individual framework conditions and the complexity of the respective content orientation. Of course, the chosen general topic AI, whose extraordinarily high social relevance underscores the importance of the basic project and the urgency of discussing it. The deliberately chosen diversity of the partners, including the genres they represent, together with the complexity of the topic and the task of finding protagonists from the art world who should be able to succeed in both worlds and to connect both worlds in their prototypical individuality, but at the same time to challenge and develop them in a constructive, critical way.
How and why is the theme Entanglements – fair, moral and transparent AI significant to you as an artist?
What are the artistic and creative possibilities of AI you would like to explore, and how?
How would you approach collaboration and engagement with the AI scientists and/or ethicists?
These were the concrete questions which, apart from the highly specific profiles of the partners involved, were to provide the framework and guidelines for the submissions from all over the world. The large number and diversity of artistic reflection and positions proved how many different perspectives the topic was able to generate in the artistic community, but also how wide the qualitative spread was between the submitted works. The special framework conditions in which the submitted works were to be presented, with their specific questions, made the jury process a thoroughly complex task. With the artists and researchers Caroline Sinders and Anna Ridler, who were finally selected for the AI Lab, 2 personalities were chosen whose approach and project proposition could be assessed as having the highest potential for the orientation of the project programme. Especially the resulting pairing of the two collaborating personalities was judged by the jury with very high expectations. This is also confirmed by the quality of the projects realized, considering their respective artistic careers, the continuity and interrelationships of the research topics, as well as the quality of the projects. In summary, the jury is convinced that it has found the right protagonists for the given conditions. It was also important to us as a jury to make other or subsequent projects available to the submitters and jury members in order to make the claim and quality more definable.
Drew Hemment, who leads the Experiential AI programme at Edinburgh Futures Institutes within University of Edinburgh:
Sinders and Ridler were appointed Experiential AI Artists in Residence at Edinburgh Futures Institute as a part of AI Lab, the Residency Program European ARTificial Intelligence Lab. In selecting the artists, our priority was to identify artists who would simultaneously benefit from and contribute to the Experiential AI programme at Edinburgh Futures Institute. There were a large number of outstanding submissions to the residency, from many countries. Sinders and Ridler stood out because of the clarity of their vision and its fit to the residency theme. The curators and AI researchers at Edinburgh Futures Institute and Edinburgh partners in the residency were certain theirs was the best proposal and should be supported.
Sinders and Ridler address entanglements between humans and machines. They propose an artistic exploration of human aspects, inputs and decisions involved in each step of creating an AI. The artists bring their own research practice to the theme. They will contribute to debates on ethical AI through a critical art enquiry into topics such as labour and provenance in creating data models. For this residency, Edinburgh Futures Institute is interested in ways art can make AI transparent. The artists propose to investigate and reveal the hidden human labour involved throughout the process of creating an AI. They will investigate the detail and nuance of each step by engaging AI researchers in engineering and social sciences at Edinburgh.
We also asked artists to address the ethics and fairness of AI. Sinders and Ridler will address the labour rights of “ghost workers”, the invisible human hands on which autonomous systems depend. Both artists create databases as part of their artistic practice. Through artistic experiments they hope to make transparent the human influence in AI, so people can understand where they have agency. Through interviews with data workers and AI researchers the artists will explore how human messiness shapes eventual model output e.g. workers can be divorced from the things they are meant to be expertly labelling.
The research team in Edinburgh wants the artists to have freedom in where their artistic enquiry takes them. The research team will collaborate with the artists in their investigation, and evaluate the interactions between the artists, engineers and ethicists along the way. Sinders and Ridler will experiment with ways of giving audiences direct experience of AI systems. The hypothesis for the Edinburgh researchers is that this can inspire new concepts and paradigms on ethical and responsible AI. This residency is breaking ground in a number of ways. It is the first time Sinders and Ridler have collaborated, and it is the first residency of the Experiential AI group at Edinburgh Futures Institute.