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“Inter Alia: Aliens and AI”

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Contemporary anxiety concerning our efforts to communicate with aliens might be understood in terms of the exponential advances in neural network research (so-termed “Artificial Intelligence”) and the probability that the aliens we encounter are more likely to be alien AIs than organic beings. The premise of our paper is that the disquieting sense that AI possesses, or is possessed of, an external intelligence, one that operates autonomously, unpredictably, and, in our deepest fears, mutinously, is projectively displaced onto extra-planetary aliens. Our paper offers an analysis of Trevor Paglen’s satellite work, The Last Pictures, as well as Eduardo Kac’s Inner Telescope and Lagoogleglyph series. We conclude with a speculative imagining of an AI-archaeologist encountering in the distant future the orbital ring of dead satellites, one of which contains Paglen’s curated image archive.
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Keywords: AI; Eduardo Kac; Trevor Paglen; alien communication; aliens; artificial intelligence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of California, Santa Barbara

Publication date: June 1, 2019

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  • PUBLIC is a beautifully designed peer-reviewed journal founded in Toronto as an intellectual and creative forum that focuses on how theoretical, and critical issues intersect with art and visual culture. Each issue's editors explore a contemporary theme by bringing together a unique assemblage of Canadian and international art projects with writing by scholars, curators, critics, and artists. This, along with book and exhibit reviews, creates an assemblage of artists projects and original writing on prescient contemporary themes in art and culture.
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