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Last month we began a series of articles questioning A. I. (Artificial Intelligence) and its ability to transform itself into a truly human mind. The issue of sentience that arose is being further examined by artists, humanists, philoshophers, and engineers. One discussion comes from Live Science, looking at the child-sized humanoid robot called "iCub" built at the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa. This humanoid, standing 3.6 ft tall, presents with a human face, camera eyes that can maintain eye contact with people, and 53 degrees of rotational freedom. Nicknamed a "digital deceiver", it was designed to study the interactions between human beings and robots. Unsurprisingly, the expectations of the human viewers tainted their responses: those who were shown the more human-like robot were convinced it had its own thoughts and emotions, while those who were shown a more robotic creature had no such reactions. The researchers themselves felt that the humanoid could learn but in fact was not self-aware. Another issue revolved around the exterior design of the robot: if it looked less human would people be less likely to interct with it and ascribe human emotions to it?

The Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, Washington, examines the question: when will we be able to upload our brains onto computers? Basic issues arise. For one, we don't really know how much information can be held in a human brain. The reseachers mapped the 3D structure of all the brain cells in one cubic millimetre of a mouse. Within this very tiny piece of mind, roughly the size of a grain of sand, the scientists were able to collect 100 million images contained in 25,000 slices over a period of several months. Further complicating the task is that the human brain holds about 100 billion neurons (as many stars as exist in the Milky Way), while the estimated number of connections possible is ten to the power of 15, meaning 10 followed by 15 zeroes. At the present time we have no idea how to transfer this amount of data into a code that a computer can understand and then utilize. Considering the amount of data contained in the tiny slice of that poor mouse's cells, it is highly unlikely that we know how to create a computer with the necessary storage space, assuming we even have any idea in advance of how immense the storage space would have to be. Further complicating the task is that after age 20 humans lose 85,000 neurons every day, due to exhaustion, infection, or impracticality (we just don't use them). Then we still don't know how these connections communicate, which in itself requires unknown amounts of additional storage capacity. Further, we really don't understand what feelings of being alive and being able to self-define really mean. One researcher concluded: no humanoid can have joy and dreams.

Have you thought about a possible digital twin of yourself? The huge amounts of data collected about each of us online, known as "data lakes", are continuously being analyzed, some as often as every few minutes. A digital twin would know about your preferences, attitudes, behavior and biases. High fidelity duplicates require vast amounts of power and storage, but it is felt that low fidelity models might be available. Issues of ethics arise, as well as accessibility to technology and government control. This article discusses some of the impllications, and a link to the original study.

How we learn, and how common sense develops, is of keen interest to A.I. scientists and psychologists. Deep Mind, part of Google's parent company Alphabet, attempts to understand these processes. The scientists begin with something called an "intuitive physics" model, which tries to teach an A.I.sytem how babies learn. Unlike most A.I. learning methods, which focus on patterns of pixels in a scene, the new process involves a model nicknamed PLATO, Physics Learning through Auto-encoding and Tracking Objects. The PLATO method arises from clinical psychology's theory that we are born with an imperfect degree of innate knowledge which is then expanded through observation and experience.

In the past,I have railed against the inherent bias, not to mention hubris, of A.I.'s underlying algorithms, particularly as I was composing music as well as lyrics using Artificial Intelligence. The music fundamentals were based on Western patterns, the lyrics restricted to hiphop. Now we learn that some scientists are beginning to recognize the problem and are looking for better underpinnings. Their project is known as BigScience, a world-wide effort by 1,000 researchers from some 60 nations determined to construct an A.I. that is more accountable and less prejudiced.

We have all seen a few images returned to earth from the James Webb NASA Project, but a "citizen scientist" (I do object to that moniker) named Judy Schmidt has uncovered an more extensive trove of other images, particularly of the so-called Phantom Galaxy. By comparison, Hubble's images are essentially derived from optical and ultraviolet models, whereas James Webb uses infrared. The result is that the James Webb telescope can peek behind the dust that interfered with Hubble's observations with incredible detail. It is hoped that in the next few years we will get increased information about the Big Bang and the stars and galaxies that it produced.

On to real humans in the arts. Born in Korea and now working in New York City, Mie Yim paints and draws in a style both sensuous and provocative. Yim externalizes the interior of the body, dissecting the dark reality beneath our prettified exteriors. She sees her images as "maudlin spirits and brooding angry prepubescents ready to do battle". The anger and sense of combativeness are combined with lush colors and seductive shapes to entice the eye and challenge the mind.

If you couldn't get to Frieze New York 2022, here are some compelling images of some of the exhibitiions.

During a period of 37 years, David Katzenstein traveled extensively and took photographs of humans engaged in acts of ritual. His new book, "Ritual", contains more than 100 of these photos from 24 countries, documenting both religious and secular rituals ranging from Buddhism to Hinduism, Judaism to Shintoism. A fascinating addition to the photos is shown on Google Earth, taking you on a tour of all the locations. Katzenstein explains his deep interest in rituals with these words: " Rituals can create and uphold community, fostering the sense of belonging to something greater than oneself. Rituals can confer dignity. They can honor heritage, embody a living link to the past and to ancestors, and offer the opportunity to participate in continuity and affirm its value. They can express solemnity or joy, encourage remembrance, solace, loss. Rituals can be the framework for transcendent experience."

A new book of photographs by Collier Schorr, titled "August", is bound to generate some controversy. Schorr is an American photographer who grew up as a young Jewish homosexual. She uses her camera to try and come to terms with the Holocaust and the Nazi's. Schorr comments, "there's a lot of guilt in the work". Shorr's photographs were taken during repeated trips to Schwabisch Gmund in Southern Germany. She adds "I felt such entitlement in Germany, like I was allowed to do whatever I wanted because historically my people were so hurt - as though I was in the land of apology." She appears to hide behind her camera, in a space where she can be both safe and invisible. "August" is the third volume in a series of intimate portraits, some involving the use of Nazi uniforms apparently in an attempt to force the present to deal with the past.

Yuta Niwa has been described as a painter who mixes the contemporary with the traditional. His materials comprise ancient Japanese substances like traditional paper, ink, pigments, and Nikawa glue. Yet he confronts tragedies like earthquakes and communicable diseases, with motifs like catfish and giant salamanders. Niwa is embarking on a large project for the Tofukuji Temple in Kyoto: he will create 24 sliding door paintings for this 13th century temple of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. He tells us that his interest in the giant salamander was metaphoric rather than biological - it was traditionally used as a symbol for disaster, just as the catfish was felt to cause earthquakes. At some level, visualizing a threat is more comforting than trying to hide from it. Initially, Niwa wanted to be a carpenter, but his high school art teacher encouraged him to study architecture at an art college. Eventually he became interested in Japanese painters from the 16th to the 19th centuries. He finds himself absorbed in the history of the places he is painting, the stories associated with that place, and how the work will be displayed.

Art lovers and historians are drawn to the first great Greek civilization that continues to fascinate us today. At issue is the Hellenistic revival and its association with the Minoans of Crete. It is possible that the opulence and fantasy of ancient Greece offers a seductive essence to a society still reeling from lockdown. The Hellenic peoples are remembered as great writers, thinkers, warriors, actors, artists and athletes. These were the originators of superbeings, like Zeus, Aphrodite, Athena and Apollo. They pioneered reading with an alphabet, the Olympics, Aristotle's study of animals and plants, Herdotus' history writing, philosophers like Plato and Socrates. They made outstanding pottery, jewelty, frescoes and sculpture. Part of the mystery of the Minoans, as well, comes from their pictographic writing, which has not been fully deciphered. Prominent among the figures of the period were representations of the snake Goddess, suggesting that perhaps Minoa was a matriarchy.

We don't usually think of cardboard as a medium for artists, yet Warren King has expanded its use into evocative sculptures. King wanders the streets of Chinatown in New York City, reminded of his parent's background and his mixed heritage. His pieces are ribbed with corrugation and covered in dark neutral tones, varying in size up to life-sized. There is a power and imposing diginity to these works, a feeling of strong presence that belies their rather fragile materials.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2022