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Serving Simulations (2015)

Serving Simulations is a 5 minute video collage that contains five monologues by artificial intelligence machines. The monologues are cut-ups from iconic science fiction films, in which the relationship between human and machine is reversed: the machines start to articulate requests to its users, or even instruct them to execute certain actions. By assembling these monologues together, Serving Simulations tries to highlight a reversed master-servant relationship between humans and AI interfaces.

screenshots of Serving Simulations

The monologues originate from the following five films: '2001 - a Space Oddysey' (1968), Steven Spielberg's 'AI' (2001), 'Moon' (2009), 'Her' (2013), and Black Mirror's 'Be Right Back' (2013). The cut-ups are made by using Videogrep, a piece of software (built upon Moviepy and FFmpeg) that makes it possible to search through a film's subtitle file, and select certain 'cuts' according to a search query. Marking the moments in the films where the master-servant relation is turned around directly in the subtitle files, created a text based video editing workflow for a text based project.

These days we have Siri's, Cortana's, Google Now's and Echo's produced by Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon. They all interact with their users without any physical interaction: they listen and answer requests as if they are another human being. The AI interfaces are build as simulations. They are designed with an attempt to reach a level of intelligence that comes as close as possible to the complexity of human intelligence. The more 'human' an interface seems to be, the more 'intelligent' it is framed as. This leads to a marketing dialectic of making something that is 'smart', which actually means 'as human-like as possible'.

The question is if these systems actually become smarter, or that the human users need to become less smart in order to use these forms of AI. Who is serving who, in this blurred boundary between the information requester (the master) and information deliverers (the servants)? This video collage is a response to human-designed machines designing the human.


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