As it becomes possible to generate convincing avatars of ‘fake persons’, who have never existed outside of an algorithm, the question arises –
when does it matter that there is no body behind?
AI-animated avatars, bots and text-to-speech systems, typically used for corporate training, are spreading to other human-facing scenarios – from primary education and senior care to crowd management and border control. As it becomes possible to generate convincing ‘fake persons’, who have never existed outside of an algorithm, the question arises – when does it matter that there is no body behind?
This short film casts AI avatars generated from human actors to relate excepts from recorded discussions on information politics and democracy. The title alludes to Harun Farocki’s I thought I was seeing prisoners / Ich glaubte Gefangene zu sehen (2000), which piercingly questions our outsourcing of seeing to machines, and the moral ‘air gap’ it creates. I thought I was hearing citizens points to a new space of human-machine encounter where such distancing occur.
If we automate decision-making
If we algorithmise education
If we gamify citizenship
Then who do we become?
Concept & realisation: Manu Luksch & Mukul Patel
Short film animation_
5’48”, HD Video (1920×1080), stereo, English
Based on a discussion facilitated by Talkaoke at Mozfest 2019, Soundings Archive
Visit and immerse yourself in the sound and video installation based on the short film of same title that traverses the IWM’s Soundings archive, reframing the voices that have been collected there to ask: how does democracy sound?
Vienna Humanities Festival 2022
Commissioned by Institute für die Wissenschaft des Menschen, Vienna.
This research is funded in part by the Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence in Design (RP2-8) under the InnoHK Research Clusters, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government.
The Soundings Open Audio Archive, a moderated, public-access database, was developed by Mukul Patel with IWM as part of the Institute of Human Science’s Sounds of Democracy Project, with support from the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy at the Graduate Institute, Geneva and the Research Group on Soft Authoritarianism, University of Bremen.