On not giving up and self belief.
This morning Hasan outlined the history of notions of neural networks and artificial intelligence starting in 1943 with Warren Mc Culloch and Walter Pitts. It was fascinating and inspiring to hear how humble beginnings, personal problems, resilience and self belief can result in such brilliant minds.
We were asked the question Can machines think? Discussions uncovered some interesting notions of the mechanistic vs human thought and of course Alan Turing and the Turing test – Can machines display intelligence? Or can machines think like human beings?
With this question in mind we worked to manipulate self portraits to display ourselves as showing resilience (in relation to a point where we needed to conjure up that resilience) in the programme artbreeder.com
Earlier this year I lost the lecturing job that I loved in circumstances that highlight the precariousness of academic contracts and the way that experienced lecturers are often replaced by cheaper, less experienced staff. I was at a very low ebb and railing against the unfairness of my treatment but regained my sense of self by setting up a new business that builds upon the work that I already do mentoring and coaching artists and in concentrating more time on my art practice. Regaining power and control in a world where control often feels impossible has been empowering and invigorating for me – this is what I tried to convey via the images I made in artbreeder.com.
Relating a personal issue or rather trying to describe an emotion using technology is something that is at the forefront of my work. I like to tell stories through digital filmmaking, sound work and also VR but I struggled to do this satisfactorily via this 2d programme. The images that I produced didn’t really convey what I wanted them to, however what I gained from the exercise was a train of thought about how we present a confident face to the outside world, how we try to bury ‘failure’ and, how when we are at a low ebb, we can become so unsure about how to present (or re-present) ourselves to this achievement driven world that we have helped to create.
Thinking again about Pitts, McCulloch and Turing and attitudes around what is success and what is failure, todays session highlighted how important ‘failure’ is to allow the brain to re-set through its own mistakes and processes of prediction and revision. As an analogy for machine learning the brain also determines what might happen in relation to any given situation and if it makes an incorrect prediction it recalibrates to account for this information. By taking into account a priori knowledge and personal experience then, the brain understands the need to predict things incorrectly in order to learn something new.
The things that we think of as the biggest failures can often turn out in retrospect to be positive pivotal points, leading us down another path, taking stock, learning new skills or having new ideas. – billions of neurons communicating electrical impulses with the ability to respond and change direction in response to external, internal and societal trigger points.
Failure as a prerequisite for success.
As we all crave not just success but the validation that comes with it, I’ll just mention that I got some really great feedback following my Pecha Kucha presentation which was lovely and I’m enjoying that sensation for a couple of hours more!