Could a futurologist implement my AI ideas?


Status: 09/21/2020 4:10 p.m.

Creativity and technology, art and artificial intelligence (AI) - how can they be thought together? The LINK program should find answers to this question. The Lower Saxony Foundation launched the funding initiative together with the Volkswagen Foundation to conduct artistic future research. The third cycle of the program has now started: Scientists and cultural workers are to jointly implement projects as the application of AI in culture. The head of LINK, Tabea Golgath from the Lower Saxony Foundation, reveals details.

Ms. Golgath, what exactly is the project about?

Tabea Golgath from the Lower Saxony Foundation is in charge of the LINK program.

Tabea Golgath: As a state cultural foundation, we have a responsibility towards all cultural institutions in the state. And we started with the LINK program because we wanted to give the cultural institutions in Lower Saxony and beyond the opportunity to work their way into artificial intelligence, to understand what possibilities there are and to check for themselves whether it makes sense for their own work area .

The LINK program is structured in stages. We started with an introductory conference in order to disseminate as much knowledge as possible, and have put the conference publications online as PDF files so that everyone can read them. We then continued with the AI ​​school so that cultural workers from Lower Saxony, but also from Berlin, Aachen and Leipzig had the opportunity to learn to program algorithms themselves.

As of today, the scholarship holders have been determined. Who are the participants?

Golgath: In cooperation with the Volkswagen Foundation, we advertised across Europe, which is rather unusual for us as regional cultural foundations, but which can be attributed to our cooperation partner Volkswagen Foundation. We approached computer scientists, but also artists from all cultural sectors and invited them to take part in interdisciplinary project tandems. We will hold a digital workshop at the beginning of November, where new teams will be formed and initial ideas will be developed.

Why should cultural workers even deal with AI?

Golgath: Nowadays you can hardly get past artificial intelligence: health insurances work with it, there is a lot of talk in the media about autonomous driving and other possible uses of AI. And cultural workers - artists in particular - always deal with current issues. With our financial support within the framework of the program, we want to enable other cultural workers to deal with these questions. Is AI really a threat? Is it a possibility? Does it help me as an artist in my work? Or can it perhaps also give me other valuable assistance, for example in working with museum databases?

How can AI be used in the cultural sector?

Golgath: With regard to the rapid development of artificial intelligence and the new possibilities that seem to be constantly opening up, we see two areas: On the one hand, the analytical one, which is made possible by the processing of large amounts of data by algorithms. On the other hand, we see artistic work with artificial intelligence. This means that it is no longer just the human artist who creates a work of art or a composition, but this is created in cooperation or apparently solely through the algorithm.

What are the special challenges for the participants from science and culture?

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Golgath: The biggest challenge in this process is finding a common language. Because even if we all speak German, English or another human language, the vocabulary in computer science or in the individual cultural branches is completely different. It is important to respond to one another, to take steps out of your own comfort zone in order to develop projects together. Because the expectations of such projects or of the individual work processes are completely different. We already tried this out in two pilot projects two years ago: New music composition students at the Hanover University of Music sat together with computer scientists from the University of Hanover and developed a joint project. In this process we were able to learn a lot for the diverse project tandems that are now facing us. In the meantime, the projects were about to end because the expectations and the way of working were completely different. Now that we know that, we can help future project tandems.

We talked primarily about the positive aspects. What dangers do you see with regard to AI?

Golgath: From a social or ethical perspective, the threat posed by AI is quite diverse. In art it is seldom a question of human life or our personal data, but in many cases it is more a collaboration, a human artist getting involved with a machine artist. In my conversations with creative artists, they rarely feared that they would be abolished if algorithms create music and art. Most of them were more curious about the process of throwing the ball back and forth at each other - a thoroughly positive approach. Nevertheless, you have to think about various points, such as the value of algorithmic art, or whether we as humans want that, for example listening to artificially created music. We have to decide that for ourselves and not let it completely out of hand.

When can we look forward to the results?

Golgath: The workshop will take place in early November, and in mid-November we will know which direction the individual projects are going. We have planned a multi-stage process so that the project ideas can be submitted by the end of January 2021. With this, the participants apply for a "Planning Grant" for 10,000 euros so that they can start their project and formulate their ideas. In summer 2021 there will be a big presentation day where ten of these "Planning Grants" will be presented, which in turn apply for three prizes of 150,000 euros, which will enable them to implement their projects over the next two years.

The interview was conducted Alexandra Friedrich.

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NDR culture | Journal | 09/21/2020 | 6:00 p.m.