News  |    |  August 26, 2020

How AI and Art Hold Each Other Accountable

News blog by Beth Jensen.
Published on the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence website.


The arts have a major role to play in the fairness of our technological future.

When Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri watched an episode of the Netflix show “Black Mirror,” depicting a dystopic world where all are rated by their social network, he was concerned enough to experiment with pulling “likes” from his popular social app.

That, says Michele Elam, is merely one example of the ongoing, beneficial relationship between the arts and artificial intelligence.

“I’m sure Mosseri had read white papers describing the risks and unexpected impact of ‘likes,’ yet it was the dramatization of the idea through an artistic medium that apparently prompted him to rethink the practice,” Elam says.

But Elam, the William Robertson Coe Professor in the Humanities and associate director for the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI), says art is not simply the conscience of tech. “In truth, they are more often mutually informing and holding each other to account,” she says.

Elam has developed a new visiting artist program at the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence and will be teaching a new undergraduate course, ART + AI, in Spring 2021 that will explore the intersection of art and AI. Here she explores the value of this relationship. [ . . . ]