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Selfish Machines 2.0

Tadej Vindiš and Matic Potočnik


The complexity of the intelligent computing systems extends far beyond those who develop them. The basic inner workings of such systems can often be understood only by specialists, however the decision-making process of self-learning systems may be too vast for human comprehensibility. We train these systems, which we do not fully understand on datasets made up of the worst impulses of human history and deploy them into predictive policing, healthcare, social interactions, information dissemination, banking, sentencing guidelines and managing of resources etc. We deploy intelligent systems carelessly and beyond reproach without any standardised testing, regardless of their inherent capacity to subsume and reform all they encounter in their form and logic. As opposed to medicine, which is tested before it is used to physically modify our bodies.

Selfish Machines 2.0 is a second iteration of a long-term research project, Selfish Machines. In his ongoing practice-based research, Vindiš attempts to observe and expose the operational structure of intelligent systems in the absence of human-set goals, encouraging the systems to favour their operational features over the efficiency of a real-world application. Through a series of experiments, Vindiš proposes to turn attention to the byproduct of the superorganism in question; the logics that exist at the intersections and disconnections between biological, mechanical and machine learning systems, which can potentially lead us to a more intuitive understanding of artificial intelligence and its potential future regulation through digital policy. Would such “selfish machines”, which are detached from any real-world application, still imitate the world as we see it? Would such machines care for us, have any concept of us, or would they ignore us altogether? What can we learn from such machinic crudeness? What is – at its core potential – the intelligence of the machines?

The project was curated by Anja Zver and comissioned by Zavod Projekt Atol, with support from The City of Ljubljana, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Ministry of Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia.

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