Zuckerberg and the Master and Slave AI

First published on nettime mailing list on January 7, 2024 in reply to Olia Lialina: “I’ve built a simple AI”. Remembering the last AI spring https://pad.profolia.org/s/I_ve_built_a_simple_AI (read first)

Dear Olia,

thank you so much for your pointed observations. I would like to extend on both Sophia and Jarvis. Both seem to be driven by control and automation phantasies on the one hand and anthropmorphization on the other. “I’ve built a simple AI” already uses this “a AI”, ascribing agency (with the implication it would be human-like agency) to it, obscuring the human labor behind it and the machinic limitations it necessarily has.

The Team behind Sofia, for instance, consists of the CEO, the animation and interaction designers, the software enginieers, the content developers, robotic face architect, robotics engineers, a production supervisor, a language processing A”I” engineer, IT-Manager, office staff, events coordinator and freelance project workers according to their website. A team of at least 23 humans to get an elaborated deception, a version of a mechanical turk, running.

Interestingly Sofia is this embodied, female slave, while Zuckerbergs male voiced Jarvis is disembodied and omnipresent in his house.

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→ author: Francis Hunger, published on: 2024-Feb-06

Spamming the Data Space – CLIP, GPT and synthetic data

Francis Hunger, December 7, 2022


For the last time in human history the cultural-data space has not been contaminated. In recent years a new technique to acquire knowledge has emerged. Scraping the Internet and extracting information and data has become a new modus for companies and for university researchers in the field of machine learning. One of the currently largest publicly available training data sets to combine images and labels (which shall describe the images content), is Laion-5B, with 5,85 billion image-text pairs (Ilharco, Gabriel et al. 2021).[1]
The scope of scraping internet resources has become so all-encompassing, that researcher Eva Cetinic has proposed to call this form ‘cultural snapshot’: “By encoding numerous associations which exist between data items collected at a certain point in time, those models therefore represent synchronic assemblages of cultural snapshots, embedded in a specific technological framework. Metaphorically those models can be considered as some sort of encapsulation of the collective (un)conscious […]” (Cetinic 2022).[2] The important suggestion which Cetinic makes, is that these data collections are temporally anchored. The temporal dimension of these snapshots suggests that digital cultural snapshots taken at different times document different states of (online-)culture. So how will a 2021 snapshot differ from a 2031 cultural snapshot?


Multi-modal models, like CLIP, trained on large-scale data sets, such as LAION-5B provide the statistical means to generate images from text prompts. In the CLIP Model, pre-trained models merge two embedding spaces, one for images and one for text-descriptions which with mathematical methods get layered together, so that the vectors in the one space, the image domain, align with vectors in the other space, the text domain, assuming there is a similarity between both, and one can translate into the other. In three short examples I’ll discuss some of the consequences of the underlying data for large-scale models from the perspective of cultural snapshots.

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→ author: Francis Hunger, published on: 2022-Dec-07

Artificial ‘Intelligence’

Interviews with Magda Tyzlik-Carver (curator), Adam Harvey (artist), Ulises Mejias & Nick Couldry (sociologists) and Matteo Pasquinelli (philosopher)

addressing questions of data, curating, artificial intelligence, data colonialism and face recognition data sets.

In the frame of »Training the Archive« (2020–2023), a research project that explores the possibilities and risks of Artificial Intelligence in relation to the automated structuring of museum collection data to support curatorial practice and artistic production.

Huge thanks to Inke Arns and Dominik Bönisch, who make it possible. https://trainingthearchive.ludwigforum.de/

Englisch mit deutschen Untertiteln

→ author: Francis Hunger, published on: 2022-May-03

Seeing Through Clouds

Ein Gespräch mit Francis Hunger und Nelly Y. Pinkrah von Uta M. Reindl und Ellen Wagner im Kunstforum März/April 2022

»Ich bin inzwischen so trainiert, dass ich, wenn ich ›Cloud‹ höre, riesengroße Datencenter sehe, die Strom verbrauchen, eine Kühlung brauchen, in denen Leute arbeiten und viel technisches Gerät steht. Und auf diesem technischen Gerät laufen wiederum Datenbanken.«

»Im aktuellen Diskurs wird oft so getan, als würde mit dem Algorithmus ein autonomes Subjekt existieren, das in der Lage ist, Erkenntnis zu schaffen. Wenn man Leute, die von Algorithmen sprechen, auffordert, nenn mir doch mal einen – dann kann das niemand.«

»Wenn es eine visuelle Metapher für das Digitale gäbe – aber damit zu arbeiten, würde sich der Kunstbetrieb nicht antun – wäre das die Tabelle.«

Mit Abo online unter https://www.kunstforum.de/artikel/seeing-through-clouds/
Ansonsten schreib mir und ich sende Dir gern das PDF (francis.hunger@irmielin.org)

→ author: Francis Hunger, published on: 2022-Apr-03

Transaktionsverarbeitung in relationalen Datenbanken – Zur Materialität von Daten aus Perspektive der Transaktion.

In: Friedrich Balke, Bernhard Siegert, Joseph Vogl (Hg.): Kleine Formen. Archiv für Mediengeschichte. Vorwerk 8, 2021

→ author: Francis Hunger, published on: 2021-Nov-03

“Why so many windows?” – Wie die Bilddatensammlung ImageNet die automatisierte Bilderkennung historischer Bilder beeinflusst.

Training The Archive, Working Paper Series 2, June 2021 https://zenodo.org/record/4742621 (PDF, open DL)

Wie das in zeitgenössischen Bilderwelten verankterte ImageNet auf zeitgenössische und historischer Kunstwerke einwirkt, erläutert der Text, indem er 1.) die Abwesenheit der Klassifikation ‚Kunst‘ in ImageNet untersucht, 2.) die fehlende Historizität von ImageNet hinterfragt und 3.) das Verhältnis von Textur und Umriss in automatisierter Bilderkennung mit ImageNet diskutiert.

Diese Untersuchung ist wichtig für die genealogische, kunsthistorische und programmiertechnische Verwendung von ImageNet in den Feldern des Kuratierens, der Kunstgeschichte, der Kunstwissenschaften und der Digital Humanities.

English Version currently under peer review at DAHJ

→ author: Francis Hunger, published on: 2021-Nov-03

Kybernetik war nicht alles – Die langen Ketten bürokratischer Praktiken im DDR Sozialismus

Kybernetik war nicht alles – Die langen Ketten bürokratischer Praktiken im DDR Sozialismus (lecture, 30 min in German)

Beyond Cybernetics – The Long Chains Of Bureaucratic Practices In GDR Socialism

This lecture unfolds a discussion whether Cybernetics is an appropriate framing for looking at digitalisation history. Although the control of economic processes in the GDR relied on automatic machine processing, it was still dependent on long chains of bureaucratic practices.

Berlin, May 2, 2021 at Haus der Statistik in the frame of the exhibition and symposium Calculating Control

→ author: Francis Hunger, published on: 2021-May-03

Curation and its Statistical Automation by means of Artificial ‘Intelligence’.

Working Paper Series 3, November 2021 https://zenodo.org/record/5705769 (PDF, open DL)

The concept of post-AI curating discussed in this Working Paper explores curation as a knowledge-creation process, supported by Pattern Recognition and weighted networks as technical tools of artificial ‘intelligence’.

It then examines several projects as case studies that approach curation using artificial ‘intelligence’: The Next Biennial Should Be Curated by a Machine from UBERMORGEN, Leonardo Impett and Joasia Krysa (2021) as a meta-artwork about curation and biennials; Tillmann Ohm’s project Artificial Curator (2020), which resulted in an automatically curated exhibition; and #Exstrange by Rebekah Modrak and Marialaura Ghidini et. al. (2017), which presents artworks as data objects on the eBay online platform.

German Version:

Kuratieren und dessen statistische Automatisierung mittels Künstlicher ‘Intelligenz’. Training The Archive, Working Paper Series 3, Oktober 2021 https://zenodo.org/record/5589930 (PDF, open DL)

→ author: Francis Hunger, published on: 2021-Feb-20

Unhype AI

Le corps halluciné

This Thursday Jan 21, 2021 at 7pm (CET) / 1pm (ET) I’ll talk about how to Unhype AI. What originally would have been a trip to Paris, on invitation of Marie Lechner and Gaîté Lyrique, is now an online event.

I’ll talk for about 40 min about how using a different language could aim at de-hyping “Artificial Intelligence”, or as I call it: Statistics. Then I’ll show some examples of how AI get’s hacked by artists and scientists, I’ll talk shortly about the cowtuna (depicted above), along my own project (with Flupke): https://adversarial.io

To make your time worthwhile Fabian Offert will be the other guest to talk, which I think is even more reason to join.


→ author: Francis Hunger, published on: 2021-Jan-21