Virtual Games

“If we focus just on capitalistic concerns, I think AI will let us all down,” Lander says.

The artist responsible for Monterey Peninsula College’s new solo show is known simply as Lander.

His installation takes the form of a game in an alternate reality (called the Altern) that visitors can enter through two Oculus Rift VR goggles. In the Altern, the visitor can interact with 22 characters and ask them questions about art and artificial intelligence, and get responses. He emphasizes that this work is an evolving piece, and that the object of the game is to join a faction of like-minded people and build the FabulAI Pyramid.

There is a RAQ (rarely asked questions) on the website, that addresses the question of what is a FabulAI Pyramid: “… a speculative device that translates cionic energy emitted by objects into computational data to be manipulated toward providing artificial intelligence with imagination.”

“It’s pretty baffling,” Lander admits. But it’s his innovative way of exploring artificial imagination and embroiling visitors in the process.

“People will become characters though me, and using my artistic license I’ll decide what factions they belong to.”

He differentiates artificial intelligence from artificial imagination, saying that the latter can innovate novel things and can progress culture. He’s aware of some of the worrisome aspects of machine learning, citing an open letter of caution signed by Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and dozens of AI experts in 2015. But he thinks our steady progress toward it has good stewards, including Demis Hassabis of Google’s DeepMind.

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“Now is the time to be aware of this, to be able to influence the people who are making these decisions about AI,” he says.

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