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“If Machines Become Conscious, Humanity Will End” - Alternative View
“If Machines Become Conscious, Humanity Will End” - Alternative View
Video: “If Machines Become Conscious, Humanity Will End” - Alternative View
Video: Do Robots Deserve Rights? What if Machines Become Conscious? 2023, February

Half of the specialists are against the art of machines, half are in favor. But all agree on one thing: the revolution has already begun.

Is the art created by neural networks, codes and algorithms artificial? The second day of the St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum ended with a discussion on an exciting topic. We started with awkward artistic opuses of machines - and ended up with the decline of human civilization.

Eternally new picture

The ideological inspirer of the meeting was the auction, which was held last year by the main auction house of the world art market Christie's. For 432.5 thousand dollars - 40 times more expensive than the originally announced price - the portrait went under the hammer. It depicts Edmond de Belamy - a man who doesn't really exist. The painting became one of a series of portraits of a fictional family. The author is the Obvious creative team, armed with artificial intelligence.

“Many people still think that artificial intelligence is something like a calculator,” says Richard Lloyd, head of international print and animation at Christie's. - I put this work up for auction as a provocation and a sign that the process has begun. At the same time, I liked that she looks like portraits of the 18th-19th centuries: I wanted the audience to approach her as a human work. We weren't looking for approval. We wanted to provoke a debate.

Portrait of Edmond de Belamy. Artists: Obvious
Portrait of Edmond de Belamy. Artists: Obvious

Portrait of Edmond de Belamy. Artists: Obvious.

Human and computer creativity can be called "neurography", "joint generation of new aesthetics." According to Olga Uskova, founder and president of the Cognitive Technologies group of companies, there are now a dozen of tools in the world for creating works of art using artificial intelligence. But "working with them is no less work than owning a brush."

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“There is a kind of space where the model is trained and processes the basic data and pieces of information that you“feed”it,” the German neuroscopic artist and former resident of Google Arts & Culture Lab Mario Klingemann tries to explain. - Both the process and this space itself, in fact, are limited only by the supply of fresh data. The model learns endlessly, and the results of its previous work affect the following.

The models, with the help of which the innovative artists draw, work according to the cyclical principle of feedback and can produce the creation according to the given parameters: for example, to compose the image of "Mona Lisa" from … furniture. Models can even arrange "collaborations" with each other.

“Sometimes the portrait turns out to be beautiful, sometimes - terrible,” the artist explains. - It's always a winding path with an interesting result. Such art does not live up to expectations: the model, on the contrary, helps to organize randomness. I am driven by the desire to create pictures that will amaze even in 10 years.


Last summer, for the first time in history, artificial intelligence creations were exhibited in a classical museum - the Hermitage. There were few who called the exhibits “not art”.

“We admit progress in science, but for some reason we do not allow it in culture, but artificial intelligence has already entered high art, to which we simply could not help reacting,” notes Dmitry Ozerkov, art critic, head of the Hermitage's Department of Contemporary Art. “If before the best praise for an exhibition was the viewer's desire to“stand and be silent”in front of a painting, now it’s the opposite. The viewer no longer wants to be a passive observer, he wants to become a part of creativity, to play with it.

There were few of those who called the unusual exhibits “not art” in the Hermitage
There were few of those who called the unusual exhibits “not art” in the Hermitage

There were few of those who called the unusual exhibits “not art” in the Hermitage.

But what is this game if you look globally?

- I have nothing against a vacuum cleaner who cleans up himself, or an artificial young lady who will cook soup for me. But why mix a person? - says Tatyana Chernigovskaya, Doctor of Sciences in Physiology and Theory of Language, Head of the Laboratory of Cognitive Research at St. Petersburg State University. - Are we planning to live on this planet - or is this all, the decline of civilization? What is the purpose of all this?

If the point is to create something that is always surprising, “fresh”, then artificial intelligence will hardly help here: “any work of art remains fresh and relevant if it has a competent viewer”.

- In chess and poker, pieces of iron win, and it is useless to compete with them, - continues Chernigovskaya. - But artificial intelligence is interesting not as a double of a person, but as something that makes other moves that are unusual for a person. A person could learn from them.


Who owns the creation and is entitled to the fee - the programmer who wrote the code, the artist who worked with it, or the neural network itself? Mario Klingemann views the model as a brush.

“At some point, the distance between the instruction coming from the programmer and the product produced by the artificial intelligence will be so great that the creation can be considered independent,” says Richard Lloyd.

Machines self-learn and evolve. What will they become? To understand this, you need to understand how they think.

“The portrait will help with this, because it not only reflects what is depicted on it, but also shows what is happening in the head of the“artist”,” says Richard Lloyd. - When transferring power to algorithms, you need to understand how they perceive our world.

- How do they see the cars? This is math. It's beautiful, - explains Olga Uskova. - The painting becomes a masterpiece thanks to the collective unconscious. If there were no queues for the Mona Lisa, it would not be a masterpiece. We have already gone through a revolution, our society is already mixed, it has biological and artificial intelligence. When communicating on the Internet, you cannot be sure that there is a person on the other end. Teaching people not to be afraid, to start trusting the creations of artificial intelligence, to show what is going on in machines in the "head" - this is the task of artists for the next decade.

The main thing in the pursuit of "machine" art is not to let the human get lost. According to experts, the viewer should always act as a living element, and art should be interactive. After all, as soon as the role in the creative process is lost, "the human race will end."

- Ethical standards must be put into the car. And if she develops before the appearance of consciousness in her, she will already become a subject of law, a person, - says Tatiana Chernigovskaya. - And it will no longer be possible, as a file, to send to the "Trash". This will be murder. We need to develop new rules of life and understand what our place in the world is. This is a different type of civilization.

- Self-awareness is a stage in the development of neural networks. Now artificial intelligence is at the level of a child of three to five years old, - adds Olga Uskova. - If it develops, and we do not put "stubs" and restrictions, - humanity will end. What should be these restrictions, these rules - as we agree.

QUESTION TO EXPERTS: What to teach children?

Tatiana CHERNIGOVSKAYA, Doctor of Science in Physiology and Theory of Language, Head of the Laboratory for Cognitive Research, St. Petersburg State University:

- Do not be afraid of the changing world. That they have the right to make mistakes, that everyone has failures. And, most importantly, something that has not yet entered the algorithms.

Olga USKOVA, founder and president of the Cognitive Technologies group of companies:

- Set yourself a goal. The child must be motivated to choose. That is why it is necessary to find a balance between training the brain and its already violence with a huge flow of information.


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