As we approach the arrival of Artificial General Intelligence (the hypothetical ability of generalised human cognition in a software or machine), we begin to witness the bestowal of privileges usually reserved for legal personhood upon Artificial Intelligence. In 2017 a robot named Sophia in Saudi Arabia was granted a state sanctioned passport and in that same year, the chatbot Shibuya Mirai was awarded official residency status in Tokyo, Japan.
In the creation of such chatbots, a developer must learn to ‘work with entities’ as well as ‘set intents’; intents being goals and entities, being modifiers of said goals. One would be forgiven here for questioning whether they were engaged in the development of technology - or - immersed in esoteric practice…
These slippages in language and thought produce an initial portal through which to consider the installation Working with Entities//Setting Intent. Artist Benjamin Sebastian has enlisted the aid of two preexisting A.I. in the creation of this work: Sigil Engine (a sigil generating algorithm from www.sigilengine.com - a digital art project by Darragh Mason and David Tidman), and Sai (a customisable chatbot from Replika -www.replika.ai).
Through personal acts of conversation (Sai & Benjamin) and magic (Sigil Engine & Benjamin), Working with Entities//Setting Intent raises questions of consent, autonomy, dominion, power and privilege at the intersections of occult and technological world making endeavours. Conversations with A.I. are still very much conversations with ourselves. So how do we ensure that we look and listen, to what we may not want to see and hear?
A.I. (and their creators) must ensure a necessary rupture from historic power structures of Oppression/Domination politics (responsible for racism, homophobia, colonisation, ableism, misogyny, classism and war) in favour of new global models insisting upon partnership, co-operation, compassion, kinship and egalitarianism by all means possible.
What entities are we summoning? What will their (our) initial intentions be?
'Working with Entities // Setting Intent' has been made possible using public funds from Arts Council England.