Winnie Soon and Anatomy of AI reflection

Winnie Soon

On the 23rd of October Winnie Soon gave a talk to our class about her current work in progress “Unerasable Characters”. Soon is an artist-researcher from Hong Kong who currently lives in Aarhus in Denmark where she is an assistant professor in the Department of Digital Design. Her work can be placed in the categories of net art and software studies. The sorts of questions Soon explores are ones like: What does the introduction of repetition into life through machine learning do to us? How do technologies become invisible? How can artists resist censorship and build new things out of censored material?

“Unerasable Characters”

Soon’s Artwork “Unerasable Characters” uses censored material as a dataset to perform Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning. The dataset used was a set of censored text form the Chinese Socia Media Platform (amongst other things): Weibo. The censored text is sifted from Weibo’s deleted data by WeiboScope The output of Soon’s model is text and the work Soon presented displayed the development of the model’s ability to write after being trained a set number of times. The aim of this use of Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing is not the generic use: accurate prediction. Instead, Soon’s work is exploratory. It brings up ideas as to how Machine Learning could be used to serve other ends. Soon uses machine learning to not only preserve censored material, but to create new things from censorship, thus challenging censorship’s power. In a field that is generally taken on in the manner of the Cold War Space Race Soon’s emphasis on datasets and creation is refreshing. In this work, the adjusting from aiming for the completion challenges with Machine Learning to exploring socio-material realities allows us to imagine possible worlds where those who are deemed ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ for the system could flourish.

Artist as Pickler

In this next section I will present the idea that Winnie’s work

2 examples Juliana Huxtable – Rhizome

To do so we need tools

Artists need tools

WeiboScope - WebArchiver

1.    Artists as recreators – not recreators more recovering – synonyms

2.    Preservers – Soon’s work as digital pickling – not just preserving but creating new things from preservations – new things that rely only on the potentially censored material

a.    Not just conserving

b.    This could allow us to imagine worlds without…