The End of Human Magic

The End of Human Magic – artist David Musgrave and artificial intelligence researcher Alex Graves consider the limits of human expression and being.

An event conceived by David Musgrave.

Technology and magic have the same purpose, to conjure a world closer to our needs and desires, and their effects are similarly unpredictable. In an era of accelerating artificial intelligence, many high-level tasks that seemed to be the preserve of human beings, from learning to speak to excelling at Go, are being performed by trained machines. It’s too soon for drawing and other creative acts to be fully overtaken by thinking computers, but the continual encroachment of technology into the traditional domains of the human should provoke us to rethink what we value about both.

David Musgrave will look at the limits of the human in the media we use, and the way those media use us, giving special attention to military drones and the pliable humanity of the star of the Japanese animated fantasy film Ponyo (2008).

Artificial intelligence researcher Alex Graves will consider the locus of creative magic within the billions of numbers processed by artificial neural networks, and ask how simple mathematics can cast the same spells as the grey stuff in our skulls.

The essay presented by Alex Graves can be found in  here.

Alex Graves is an artificial intelligence researcher. He did a BSc in Theoretical Physics at Edinburgh and obtained a PhD in AI under Jürgen Schmidhuber at IDSIA in Lugano, Switzerland. He was also a postdoc at TU Munich and under Geoffrey Hinton at the University of Toronto. At IDSIA, he trained long short-term memory (LSTM) neural networks by a novel method called connectionist temporal classification (CTC). In 2009, his CTC-trained LSTM was the first recurrent neural network to win pattern recognition contests, winning several competitions in connected handwriting recognition. Google uses CTC-trained LSTM for speech recognition on the smartphone. He is also the creator of neural Turing machines and of the closely related differentiable neural computer.

David Musgrave was born in 1973 and lives and works in London. His most recent solo show was at greengrassi, London, in 2018. His work has been featured in many institutional exhibitions, including The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed at Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn; Space Force Construction, V-A-C Foundation, Venice (2017); Golem Legend, Stiftung Jüdisches Museum, Berlin (2016); The Noing Uv It, Kunsthalle Bergen; Être Chose, CIAP Île de Vassivière; Quiz, Galeries Poirel, Nancy (2015); and The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things, Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, Nottingham Contemporary and De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea (2013). He is the author of a novel, Unit, published by LemonMelon in 2015.