Quotes from things I'm reading online, more or less in real time. Started in 2023. Quotes from readings 2021-22 can be found in this Google doc

Reading Notes 2023

August 2023

Boris Groys, “From Writing to Prompting: AI as Zeitgeist-Machine”, in e-flux Notes, August 10, 2023

“the emergence and advancement of AI puts individual authorship in question. The writer—this last artisan amidst the industrialized world—sees their work drowning in an ocean of machine-produced texts. The reader cannot know any more if a particular text is written by a human author or produced by AI.”

“the AI-generated text or image is an interpretation of the authorial intent of the prompt. Accordingly, this intent should be formulated clearly so that AI can adequately understand it. In a seemingly paradoxical way, the practice of prompting brings us back to the classical figure of the author—the figure that was put into question by the discourse of deconstruction.”

“if, as a writer, I write a prompt and the AI produces a text or image prompted by this prompt, I can immediately see how my text is understood and interpreted at this particular historical moment—not by a particular individual or group but by the whole civilization in which I live. AI is nothing other than the embodied zeitgeist. And by prompting this zeitgeist-machine, I am able to analyze and diagnose the moment of history to which I am contemporary.”

“if the accumulated mass of writing and documentation is not accessible to the human mind, it is accessible to AI. Today, prompting seems to be the only way to communicate with this “objectified writing”—this embodied zeitgeist.”

Shane Denson, “HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL?”, in Outland, July 26, 2023

“Though often judged by its spectacular images, AI art needs also to be regarded in terms of its materiality, its temporality, and its relation to embodied, tactile existence. The human body plays a central role in processing contemporary artworks that use machine learning algorithms to generate their images, serving as a kind of presubjective filter through which the generated stimuli—often too many in number, their motion and calculation too fast or too minute for conscious perception—are strained.”

Anastasia Berg, “On the Aesthetic Turn”, in The Point, Issue 30, July 19, 2023

“In the fairy tales we tell ourselves about art, we imagine that the images of the artist can set us free: from the quotidian tedium of everyday life, from ignorance, from moral turpitude. But in their ability to make contact with the strangest, most hidden parts of ourselves, images can themselves beguile and entrap us... Images can feed our narcissism, divert our thoughts, seduce us, delude us morally, constrict our imaginations—and yet we can never seem to get enough.

If good art and its criticism can free us from anything, it can free us, first and foremost, from the totalizing fantasies that are fed by such images... It can liberate us, in other words, from the comforting delusion that we can ever transcend our human limits, defeat death, unhappiness and evil once and for all, or live in anyone’s vision of heaven on earth. This does not mean, however, that we can ever be liberated from the infinite pull of beauty itself, or be able to attend to images only when we feel like it. It is rather like this: we can decide what to do, but we can never decide what to dream.”

Alexander Provan, “Who's Afraid of Deepfake Kim Kardashian?”, in Frieze, August 9, 2023

“To paraphrase the counterfeit Kardashian: what else is the artist to do if reality is an endless stream of content to be interpreted, manipulated, organized and framed, and if identities are fungible commodities? This question tends to be side-stepped in the current debates about AI, art and creativity. Generally, AI is said to be either a boon to the species, augmenting our brains and offloading the tedious tasks of searching, sorting and synthesizing, or else an existential threat to the ineffable processes – as well as the underlying labour and social ties – that constitute culture. The two camps tend to agree that creativity will come to mean something different, even if the rise of Basquiat bots does not result in the extinction of old-fashioned artists (the ones who do not merely sort and synthesize but create).”

Jo Lawson-Tancred, “Can a Digital Artwork Outlast a 19th-Century Painting? The Answer Is Complicated as Artists, Dealers, and Conservators Battle Obsolescence in the Field”, in Artnet News, August 9, 2023

“Today, “the reason hardware has stopped working isn’t because it’s broken per se, it’s because some kind of obsolescence has been introduced by the corporation that made it.” [Fino-Radin] The same is true of software, which can have its license expire, be dependent on other outdated softwares, or suddenly introduce a subscription fee. “We have less trouble with the ’90s artworks than today’s,” agreed Morgan Stricot, head of digital conservation at the ZKM Karlsruhe.”

July 2023

Scott Alexander, “The Extinction Tournament”, in Astral Codex Ten, July 20, 2023

“Should we update our risk of human extinction downward?”

Douglas Dodds, “THE INTERVIEW | A. MICHAEL NOLL”, in Right Click Save, July 10, 2023

“Billy Klüver got involved with Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), and he believed that engineers had to collaborate and work with artists. They couldn’t do both — there had to be two people. All the shows he did attracted a considerable amount of attention in the New York area. And then Ken Knowlton and Leon Harmon did the Computer Nude (Studies in Perception I) (1967) and that attracted even more attention. It was hard to compete with that Nude, which exhausted the interest in computer art and, I think, slowed the whole thing down. It’s also unquestionably sexist. In my mind, the Experiments in Art and Technology was a disaster. Most of the technology never worked right, but because it involved Klüver and Robert Rauschenberg it grabbed the attention of the big money in New York.”

Kyle Chayka, “My A.I. Writing Robot”, in The New Yorker, July 11, 2023

“Putting a verb after a subject or padding out a sentence with adjectives is a task that machines can accomplish, because such grammatical probabilities can be calculated. Insight isn’t as easy to automate, because it’s something that deepens with time, through the process of getting words down on the page. As Flusser put it, “Only one who writes lines can think logically, calculate, criticize, pursue knowledge, philosophize.” The most unsettling aspect of A.I.-generated text is how it tries to divorce the act of writing from the effort of doing it, which is to say, from the processes of thought itself.”

Julian Lucas, “The Puzzle of Putting Video Games in a Museum”, in The New Yorker, June 30, 2023

“Games... cannot be judged solely in terms of their scores, stories, scenery, and other constituent arts. If we want to understand what makes them unique, we must study their mechanics.”

“Although several peer institutions have exhibited games, MOMA is one of very few art museums to build them into its permanent collection, a process that isn’t quite as simple as waiting for the next sale on Steam. “We establish a relationship with the production company, we make sure we’ll have the right to migrate the game and emulate it ourselves,” Antonelli has explained. “It’s a really big scaffold.” In many cases, MOMA has acquired not only games but also their original hardware platforms—and, whenever possible, their source code, which is often quite challenging to obtain.”

REX WOODBURY AND JARYD HERMANN, “How Roblox Grows: From Virtual Playground to Global Empire”, in Digital Native, June 29, 2023

“Gaming is bigger than the box office, streaming video, and recorded music industries combined—and growing much faster. Gaming has become the largest category of media, with over 3B gamers globally.”

“As games get more immersive, the lines blur between social and gaming. This isn’t new: as long as sandbox games have been around (games that give players lots of creative freedom), gaming has trended toward socialization, sometimes even losing gameplay altogether.”

“Companies like Roblox don’t create any games—players create their own games and earn a share of revenue. This significantly de-risks an investment: there are over 40 million games on Roblox, with the top 10 games representing only ~30-40% of revenue.”

“Roblox is less a gaming company than a next-generation social network—a platform for building and sharing immersive virtual environments. This continues the internet’s march toward ever-more-immersive content.”

James Vincent, “AI is killing the old web, and the new web struggles to be born”, in The Verge, June 26, 2023

“Given money and compute, AI systems — particularly the generative models currently in vogue — scale effortlessly. They produce text and images in abundance, and soon, music and video, too. Their output can potentially overrun or outcompete the platforms we rely on for news, information, and entertainment. But the quality of these systems is often poor, and they’re built in a way that is parasitical on the web today... This product then competes for attention with the platforms and people that came before them.”

“There’s a famous essay in the field of machine learning known as “The Bitter Lesson,” which notes that decades of research prove that the best way to improve AI systems is not by trying to engineer intelligence but by simply throwing more computer power and data at the problem. The lesson is bitter because it shows that machine scale beats human curation. And the same might be true of the web.”

Katie White, “Rising Talent Bea Scaccia’s Otherworldly Paintings Capture the Harmony—and Tension—Between Beauty and Monstrosity”, in Artnet News, June 29, 2023

“Right now, we’re living in a Baroque period full of turmoil and scientific discovery...We’ve lost everything that was the animal part of us and so we wear it as the protection that we need.”

Evgeny Morozov, “The True Threat of Artificial Intelligence”, in The New York Times, June 30, 2023

“Depending on how (and if) the robot rebellion unfolds, A.G.I. may or may not prove an existential threat. But with its antisocial bent and its neoliberal biases, A.G.I.-ism already is: We don’t need to wait for the magic Roombas to question its tenets.”

June 2023

Josh Dzieza, “AI Is a Lot of Work”, in The Verge, June 20, 2023

“Much of the public response to language models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT has focused on all the jobs they appear poised to automate. But behind even the most impressive AI system are people — huge numbers of people labeling data to train it and clarifying data when it gets confused. Only the companies that can afford to buy this data can compete, and those that get it are highly motivated to keep it secret. The result is that, with few exceptions, little is known about the information shaping these systems’ behavior, and even less is known about the people doing the shaping... The current AI boom... began with an unprecedented feat of tedious and repetitive labor.”

“The more AI systems are put out into the world to dispense legal advice and medical help, the more edge cases they will encounter and the more humans will be needed to sort them.”

“This tangled supply chain is deliberately hard to map. According to people in the industry, the companies buying the data demand strict confidentiality... Annotation reveals too much about the systems being developed, and the huge number of workers required makes leaks difficult to prevent. Annotators are warned repeatedly not to tell anyone about their jobs... there are no granular estimates of the number of people who work in annotation, but it is a lot, and it is growing. A recent Google Research paper gave an order-of-magnitude figure of “millions” with the potential to become “billions.””

“When AI comes for your job, you may not lose it, but it might become more alien, more isolating, more tedious.”

“The act of simplifying reality for a machine results in a great deal of complexity for the human.”

“The job of the annotator often involves putting human understanding aside and following instructions very, very literally — to think, as one annotator said, like a robot. It’s a strange mental space to inhabit, doing your best to follow nonsensical but rigorous rules.”

“ChatGPT seems so human because it was trained by an AI that was mimicking humans who were rating an AI that was mimicking humans who were pretending to be a better version of an AI that was trained on human writing. This circuitous technique is called “reinforcement learning from human feedback,” or RLHF.”

“Until recently, it was relatively easy to spot bad output from a language model. It looked like gibberish. But this gets harder as the models get better — a problem called “scalable oversight.””

“One way the AI industry differs from manufacturers of phones and cars is in its fluidity. The work is constantly changing, constantly getting automated away and replaced with new needs for new types of data. It’s an assembly line but one that can be endlessly and instantly reconfigured, moving to wherever there is the right combination of skills, bandwidth, and wages.”

Ahmed Elgammal, “Text-to-Image Generators Have Altered the Digital Art Landscape—But Killed Creativity. Here’s Why an Era of A.I. Art Is Over”, in Artnet News, June 20, 2023

“A.I. does not make art; it makes images. What makes these generated images art is the human artists behind A.I.—the artists who fed data to the machine, played with its knobs, and curated the output. So, I am using the term “A.I. Art” to talk about human art that uses A.I. as part of the creative process, with various degrees of autonomy. We are entering an era of massive use of such tools. However, the era when these tools struck a spark of artistic genius might be behind us.”

“In 2017, when we trained a GAN on classical portraits from Western art, it created some troubling, deformed portraits, which reminded me of Francis Bacon’s 1963 portraits of Henreitta Moraes. However, there is one fundamental difference: Bacon had the intention of making his portrait deformed, while A.I. simply failed to make a portrait as was instructed. With GANs, we entered the era of machine failure aesthetics.”

“One fundamental difference between early A.I. models and today’s prompt-based models, is that earlier models could be trained on smaller sets of images. This made it possible for artists to train their own A.I. models based on their own visual references. Today’s prompt-based models are pre-trained on billions of images taken from the internet without artist consent.”

“Text-promoting helped A.I. get out of the uncanny valley. But it killed the surprise. This is because these models are trained on both text and images together, and learn to correlate visual concepts with language semantics. This makes the models better at creating figures and imitating styles that can be described in words.”

“A.I. is becoming a tool for massive image generation, not the exciting co-creative partner that excites artists with new ideas. A.I. is becoming very good at following the rules, but the artistic spark in it is gone. Artists will have to dig deeper, go beyond prompting, and use A.I. differently to find it.”


“When everything is a potential data point, it becomes nearly impossible to distinguish what, exactly, derives from what, and to what extent that derivation has occurred... To what extent does being “trained” on an image translate into the production of new ones? And how does that connect to revenue, and, by extension, the amount owed to artists? (Especially given that many of the companies producing AI-generated media don’t currently make any profits).”

“The ruling against the Warhol Foundation isn’t an attack on the creative process, but part of a wider effort to entrench the integrity of the copyright system, and to compensate creators for their role in producing referential work. While this may affect some artists in the short term – causing them to think twice before they use someone else’s material in a licensing context – this case should be understood as part of the looming battle against the real antagonists: the technologists who want to swallow the world whole.”

Franco “Bifo” Berardi, “The Completion”, in e-flux Journal, Issue #137, June 2023

“In conditions of competition and war, all technical transformations that increase productive or destructive power are destined to be implemented. This means that it is no longer possible to stop the self-construction of the global automaton.”

“We can distinguish three dimensions of reality: the existing, the possible, and the necessary. The existing (or contingent) has the character of chaos. The evolution of the existing follows the lines of the possible, or those of the necessary. The possible is a projection of will and imagination. The necessary is implicit in the strength of biology, and now also in the strength of the logical machine. The cognitive automaton allows us to foresee the extermination of the contingent by the necessary, which naturally implies an annulment of the possible, because there is no possible without the contingency of the existent.”

Terry Nguyen, “Sarah Palin Forever”, in Dirt, June 15, 2023

“Extinction is a distraction from other conversations.”

Yuk Hui, “ChatGPT, or the Eschatology of Machines”, in e-flux Journal, Issue #137, June 2023

”the novelty and significance of artificial intelligence is buried by the eschatological imaginary, by modern stereotypes of machines and industrial propaganda... fighting against climate change should be our top priority, as should be developing a productive relation between humans and technology.”

“Simondon, in his 1958 book On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects, rightly observed that the replacement of thermodynamic machines by information machines marks a critical moment: human displacement from the center of production... In the era of information machines, or cybernetic machines, the machine itself becomes the organizer of information and the human is no longer at the center, even if they still consider themself the commander of machines and organizer of information. This is the moment when the human suffers from their own stereotypical beliefs about machines: they falsely identify themself as the center, and in so doing, they face constant frustration and a panicked search for identity.”

“Humans live within the industry’s self-fulfilling prophecy of replacement. And indeed, the industry constantly reproduces the discourse of replacement by announcing the end of this or that job as if a revolution had arrived, while the social structure and our social imaginary remain unchanged.”

“Instead of elaborating a vision of the future in which artificial intelligence serves a prosthetic function, the dominant discourse treats it merely as challenging human intelligence and replacing intellectual labor. Today’s humans fail to dream.”

“The prosthetic nature of technology must be affirmed beyond its functionality, for since the beginning of humanity, access to truth has always depended on the invention and use of tools. This fact remains invisible to many, which makes the conflict between machine evolution and human existence seem to originate from an ideology deeply rooted in culture.”

“Instead of suspending the development of AI, suspend the anthropomorphic stereotyping of machines and develop an adequate culture of prosthesis... Instead of mystifying machines and humanity, understand our current technical reality and its relation to diverse human realities, so that this technical reality can be integrated with them to maintain and reproduce biodiversity, noodiversity, and technodiversity.”

Daniel Rubinstein, “What is 21st Century Photography?”, in The Photographer's Gallery, February 7, 2018

“in the 21st Century this representational world order inaugurated by Newton’s laws of motion, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and parliamentary (representational) democracy, the “photographic camera” has already come to the end of its life. Even if some parts of this form of photography are still visible, they are in a state of advanced decay; maintaining a holding pattern, while simultaneously being transformed by a new set of forces.”

“In this new age of thinking machines, algorithmic processing, and vast computational speeds, a dramatic change is happening to the visual field. The industrial age was an age of universal visibility... Photography had a clear-cut role in this optical regime...”

“in a post-Fordist society the locus of political agency and of cultural relevance has shifted from the object – as visually arresting as it might be – to the processes that (re)produce and distribute the object. Processes, however, by their own nature, are less visible and less representational than objects. For that reason, it seems to me that if photography mainly concerns itself with representations of objects in space, it is losing its relevance in a world in which speed, acceleration, distribution and self-replication acquire a significance that overshadows the visual appearance of spaces.”

“both materiality and humanity must be re-evaluated in the light of these bio-techno-political developments.”

“There is no need for fear or hope, only to look for new weapons.” Gilles Deleuze

“In the 21st Century, photography is not a stale sight for sore eyes, but the inquiry into what makes something an image. As such, photography is the most essential task of art in the current time.”

Marc Andreessen, “Why AI Will Save the World”, in a16z, June 6, 2023

“anything that people do with their natural intelligence today can be done much better with AI, and we will be able to take on new challenges that have been impossible to tackle without AI, from curing all diseases to achieving interstellar travel.”

““Bootleggers” are the self-interested opportunists who stand to financially profit by the imposition of new restrictions, regulations, and laws that insulate them from competitors... For AI risk, these are CEOs who stand to make more money if regulatory barriers are erected that form a cartel of government-blessed AI vendors protected from new startup and open source competition – the software version of “too big to fail” banks.”

“My view is that the idea that AI will decide to literally kill humanity is a profound category error. AI is not a living being that has been primed by billions of years of evolution to participate in the battle for the survival of the fittest, as animals are, and as we are. It is math – code – computers, built by people, owned by people, used by people, controlled by people. The idea that it will at some point develop a mind of its own and decide that it has motivations that lead it to try to kill us is a superstitious handwave. In short, AI doesn’t want, it doesn’t have goals, it doesn’t want to kill you, because it’s not alive. And AI is a machine – is not going to come alive any more than your toaster will.”

“Some people confess guilt to claim credit for the sin.” John Von Neumann

“The AI cat is obviously already out of the bag. You can learn how to build AI from thousands of free online courses, books, papers, and videos, and there are outstanding open source implementations proliferating by the day. AI is like air – it will be everywhere. The level of totalitarian oppression that would be required to arrest that would be so draconian... that we would not have a society left to protect.”

“The single greatest risk of AI is that China wins global AI dominance and we – the United States and the West – do not... We should seek to win the race to global AI technological superiority and ensure that China does not.”

Anna Wiener, “The Age of Chat”, in The New Yorker, June 17, 2023

“A big reason that OpenAI needs you to keep your inputs within the bounds of a typical conversational style is that it enables them to more effectively police the output of the model. The model only acts remotely predictably when the user acts predictably.” Colin Fraser, a data scientist at Meta

“With today’s chatbots, human users are not really speaking; they are prompting... High-quality inputs are rewarded with high-quality outputs; the software is a kind of mirror. What’s happening is data exchange between user and bot—but it is also a mutual manipulation, a flywheel, an ouroboros.”

ACI, “The Hybrid Mind”, in Outland, June 8, 2023

“it seems totally reasonable that within a few years we will see the rise of a new avant-garde, composed primarily of human-AI agents, or even just superintelligent hipster AIs that produce an autonomous form of artistic expression capable of writing itself into and out of existence.”

“Being alive means making art and now is when the fun really begins.”

Prabha Kannan, “Another Warning Letter from A.I. Researchers and Executives”, in The New Yorker, June 12, 2023

“So, while we continue down a capitalist path of throwing endless resources at the development of these humanlike systems at breakneck speeds, basically guaranteeing our own demise, we are also taking a moment to write, sign, and publish this very important letter that will hopefully absolve us of any responsibility for our own actions.”

Pietro Minto, “Link Molto Belli: Il plurale di Svezia”, 10 giugno 2023

“Il metaverso di Meta, ammesso esista ancora, e lo spatial computing di Apple sono pensati per un futuro plumbeo, fatto di filtri per ripulire l’aria, occhialoni per rimpiazzare l’ufficio, lockdown ambientali e altri spunti per romanzetti distopici.”

Heather Dewey-Hagborg, “Generative Representation”, in Unthinking Photography, December 17, 2018

“is forensic DNA phenotyping a photographic process? The question is significant because photography generally implies a subject which can be represented; it seems to have a certain claim on ‘reality’... Generative representation is the production of images that appear ‘real’, although they are constructed using completely artificial means. It describes the way in which an algorithmically produced image, like a portrait, might feel like an index to a real world subject, even though it is entirely contrived. This phenomenon gives the generative image an authority that is essentially borrowed from the long history and tremendous power of representation in modernity.”

“As daily life becomes increasingly abstracted, virtual, informatic and algorithmic, representation begins to lose its stability. We live in a world of images but the character of those images has morphed into an “immersive economy”. The image is a computational product, the outcome of an algorithmic process.”

“There is therefore a danger in seeing models as simply a new form of representation, because what they actually do, the way they function and act in society is fundamentally different. The model is shapeshifting. It can adopt a host of forms each of which may appear as certain, accurate, and as true as the last, but in reality the model is a constellation; a fluid space of possibility.”

“generative representation: the production of an image that feels real, that feels even like a direct representation, but is in actuality a phantom.”

Lev Manovich, “Towards ‘General Artistic Intelligence’?”, in Art Basel, June 1, 2023

“while we can endlessly debate if AI is ‘creative’ or not, it is already fully ‘professional’; technically more accomplished than many art students and adult artists.”

“Kitsch, in other words, is melodramatic, shows only stereotypes, and lacks originality. This, to me, is an excellent description of the default images produced by AI tools.”

“Before we dismiss vernacular AI visual culture as completely derivative and unauthentic, consider how important copying has always been in human cultures. Historically, image making was often about making copies or variations... The universe of AI imagery created by amateurs today reminds us of how cultures have always operated: through constant imitation and small modifications.”

Max Cozloff, “MEN AND MACHINES”, in Artforum, February 1969

“our onetime extensions, the machines, are becoming our present competitors; ... control and responsibility are becoming too vulnerably compressed; and ... increased services by our goods and systems tend more to regulate than to liberate us. In other words, the greater our creativity in utilizing nonhuman sources of power, in an effort to free ourselves from unnecessary labor, the more suddenly necessary patterns of dependence come into existence.”

Hannah Baer, “Projective Reality”, in Artforum, Summer 2023

“The way we conceptualize intelligence is rooted in the assumption of violence... underneath the perceived threat of AI is an assumption that greater intelligence means more domination, and less intelligence means subjugation. These assumptions are woven into our basic cultural sensibilities.”

“If we understand that the way we see AI tells us more about ourselves and our histories and values than it does about the machine, perhaps we can also invite it to help us transcend.”

Mario Carpo, “IMITATION GAMES”, in Artforum, Summer 2023

“AI-driven image-making—far from heralding some future post-human development—appears to be actually reviving long-dormant visual strategies that dominated the arts, and art theories, of the past.”

“visual imitation and style transfer are what AI based image-making technologies basically do, and so do we when we use them. It therefore stands to reason that AI scientists trying to replicate, with mathematical means, some core, and apparently timeless, operations of the human mind felt at some point the instrumental need to call on those ancient terms. What computer scientists probably didn’t know (unless also trained in comparative literature or married to an art historian) is that the terms imitation and style have been controversial in the humanities for most of the twentieth century.”

“There is therefore a certain irony in that the latest avatar of electronic technologies may now foster a revival of art theory tropes that twentieth-century modernism tried to eliminate from the visual culture of the machine-made environment. Imitation and style, which modernists had rejected from art theory, are coming back to art practice through the window of technology.”

“As technology now begins to automate imitation, thus endorsing and generalizing its uses, we must revive some critical awareness of what imitation means, how it works, and how we can work with it. As with all tools, artificial intelligence, whether generative or not, can only be as intelligent as the tasks to which we put it.”

Tina Rivers Ryan, “BINARY PLASTIC LANGUAGE”, in Artforum, Summer 2023

“WHAT IF WE BEGAN the story of digital art not with a screen but with a canvas?”

“Each work is framed as not simply a technical demonstration but a manifestation of a particular artist’s project. And it is the artists’ judgments—including about which materials to use or which outputs to display or throw away—that help give the works here a meaning beyond what they teach us about the history of computing.”

“As Britt Salvesen notes in her catalogue essay on the computer-generated films in “Coded,” an overemphasis on the how of computer art tends to distract us from the why.”

Ben Davis, “Why Andy Warhol’s ‘Prince’ Is Actually Bad, and the Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith Decision Is Actually Good”, in Artnet News, June 1, 2023

“The question of lazy, un-creative uses of appropriation by powerful artists who are out of ideas and would like to coast on other people’s unique works is as important to address as the question of actual creative uses of appropriation!”

“The new wave of generative A.I. is essentially a doomsday device crafted to demolish every form of stable protection for unique creative works. Trained on unthinkably huge amounts of often copyrighted materials, and capable of creative feats at speed, it sells the magical ability to target anything and remix it just enough so that you don’t need to worry about credit or compensation for any original labor, for whatever “use” you want.”

Erik Salvaggio, “We Need To Come Back From The Future”, in Cybernetic Forests, June 4, 2023

“AI is not a threat to human survival, or the folks writing these letters would just stop developing it and focus on limiting it, rather than writing letters about how they really ought to stop.”

“the problem of these existential concerns — over the local, immediate concerns — is one of culture. The culture of the safety engineer, focused on abstract future catastrophes with unarticulated causes, is increasingly prioritized over the culture of the harmed, who exist on the peripheries of algorithmic impacts.”

May 2023

Federico Campagna, “Tomorrow's Myths”, in Art and Education, May 2023

“We come into the world completely unaware, unprepared, and baffled. What are we doing here? What is “here”? And who are we? Through the years of our education, we are taught, not how to resolve these existential questions, but a series of techniques with which we can cope with their insolubility. These techniques, going under the general name of “knowledge” (scientific, technical, psychological, political, etc.), consist in a series of powerful narratives through which we might be able to suspend our disbelief towards our absurd existential condition: being “alive”, within a “body” and a “personality,” inside a “world,” at a “time” and a “space,” all of whose actual material referents remain obscure.”

“But at times... these narratives... cease being perceived as narratives, becoming instead “facts.” This ideological turn, which appears to endow us with a firm grasp on the true “nature” of the world, affords a great deal of tranquility. We cease questioning the unsettling mystery in which we are steeped, and we cease tormenting ourselves about the limits of our understanding. But this tranquility comes at a cost. It requires that we accept being imprisoned within the narratives with which we have wrapped reality. Tranquility in exchange for freedom: the eternal dilemma.”

Kate Knibbs, “Why Does AI Art Look Like a ’70s Prog-Rock Album Cover?”, in Wired, January 28, 2023

“The rhetoric from these companies is that you can make anything you can imagine. It’s about this open frontier. But, of course, popular culture follows particular stereotypes and tropes” Lev Manovich

John Harris, “‘There was all sorts of toxic behaviour’: Timnit Gebru on her sacking by Google, AI’s dangers and big tech’s biases”, in The Guardian, May 22, 2023

“In accepting large amounts of web text as ‘representative’ of ‘all’ of humanity, we risk perpetuating dominant viewpoints, increasing power imbalances and further reifying inequality.” Gebru, Mitchell et al

“AI is not magic. There are a lot of people involved – humans.”

“That conversation ascribes agency to a tool rather than the humans building the tool... That means you can abdicate responsibility: ‘It’s not me that’s the problem. It’s the tool. It’s super-powerful. We don’t know what it’s going to do.’ Well, no – it’s you that’s the problem. You’re building something with certain characteristics for your profit. That’s extremely distracting, and it takes the attention away from real harms and things that we need to do. Right now.”

Alice Bucknell, “No Hard Reset: Against The Crypto Utopia”, 2023

“Like other technologies, blockchain urbanism cannot replace the fundamentals of urban development, which is a human-centered approach. Without the social integration of this technology across all sectors, it’s not a city: it’s just a solution in search of a problem.”

“There is an unavoidable paradox to blockchain urbanism... blockchain technology... was designed from the Hobbesian worldview that humans are corruptible, selfish creatures. The distributed ledger architecture of blockchain is, as Nakamoto says in their original white paper, “a system built with the assumption that no person, authority, or institution can be trusted.” So how can a technology built upon a misanthropic worldview guide us seamlessly into the utopian cities of tomorrow?”

Brian Boucher, “A New NFT and ‘Speculative Reality’ Puzzle From Artist Trevor Paglen Sends Users on a Dark, Mind Control-Themed Treasure Hunt”, in Artnet News, May 12, 2023

“Here’s 10,000 people who all talk to each other,” he said, referring to the community of digital-art fans. “To build CYCLOPS, in order to play this game, you need 1,000 people who are talking to each other. NFTs have a bunch of nerds hanging out on Discord servers. I was thinking about audience in a different way. What I was asking was, ‘How do you make public art for people who live in the Internet?’”

Naomi Klein, “AI machines aren’t ‘hallucinating’. But their makers are”, in The Guardian, May 8, 2023

“but why call the errors “hallucinations” at all? Why not algorithmic junk? Or glitches? Well, hallucination refers to the mysterious capacity of the human brain to perceive phenomena that are not present, at least not in conventional, materialist terms. By appropriating a word commonly used in psychology, psychedelics and various forms of mysticism, AI’s boosters, while acknowledging the fallibility of their machines, are simultaneously feeding the sector’s most cherished mythology: that by building these large language models, and training them on everything that we humans have written, said and represented visually, they are in the process of birthing an animate intelligence on the cusp of sparking an evolutionary leap for our species.”

“What work are these benevolent stories doing in the culture as we encounter these strange new tools? Here is one hypothesis: they are the powerful and enticing cover stories for what may turn out to be the largest and most consequential theft in human history. Because what we are witnessing is the wealthiest companies in history (Microsoft, Apple, Google, Meta, Amazon …) unilaterally seizing the sum total of human knowledge that exists in digital, scrapable form and walling it off inside proprietary products, many of which will take direct aim at the humans whose lifetime of labor trained the machines without giving permission or consent.”

“Silicon Valley routinely calls theft “disruption” – and too often gets away with it. We know this move: charge ahead into lawless territory; claim the old rules don’t apply to your new tech; scream that regulation will only help China – all while you get your facts solidly on the ground. By the time we all get over the novelty of these new toys and start taking stock of the social, political and economic wreckage, the tech is already so ubiquitous that the courts and policymakers throw up their hands.”

“It’s also why their hallucinations about all the wonderful things that AI will do for humanity are so important. Because those lofty claims disguise this mass theft as a gift.”

“this new tech will be used in the same ways as the last generation of digital tools: that what begins with lofty promises about spreading freedom and democracy ends up micro targeting ads at us so that we buy more useless, carbon-spewing stuff.”

“We live under capitalism, and under that system, the effects of flooding the market with technologies that can plausibly perform the economic tasks of countless working people is not that those people are suddenly free to become philosophers and artists. It means that those people will find themselves staring into the abyss – with actual artists among the first to fall.”

“A world of deep fakes, mimicry loops and worsening inequality is not an inevitability. It’s a set of policy choices. We can regulate the current form of vampiric chatbots out of existence – and begin to build the world in which AI’s most exciting promises would be more than Silicon Valley hallucinations.”

Santiago Zabala, Claudio Gallo, “What is the political agenda of artificial intelligence?”, in Al Jazeera, 17 May 2023

“AI appears to be here to stay. And its political agenda is fully synchronised with that of free market capitalism, the principal (undeclared) goal and purpose of which is to tear apart any form of social solidarity and community. The danger of AI... is that this undeniably monumental invention appears to be basing all its decisions and actions on the same destructive and dangerous values that drive predatory capitalism.”

Claire L. Evans, “There’s Nothing Unnatural About a Computer”, in Grow, The Futures Issue, 2023

“I don’t think there is such a thing as an artificial intelligence. There are multiple intelligences, many ways of doing intelligence. What I envisage to be more useful and interesting than artificial intelligence as we currently conceive of it—which is this incredibly reduced version of human intelligence— is something more distributed, more widely empowered, and more diverse than singular intelligence would allow for.”

“There’s nothing unnatural about a computer. It’s just another different way of putting silicon and hydrocarbons and a bunch of other stuff together to do things, just as evolution has put together all kinds of other interesting forms.”

“artificial intelligence can only ever be a subset of human intelligence. It lacks any other kind of access to the world.”

“the way that I think about it is that intelligence is relational. It’s not something that exists within bodies, but between them. Or between beings, or between awarenesses, or between beings and things, between beings and places. I wouldn’t even necessarily restrict it to bodies. But intelligence without relationships — I don’t think I could really understand what that is.”

Terry Nguyen, “The AI writer”, in Dirt, Apr 28, 2023

“creative work is tied to a sense of purpose. It transcends the purely transactional nature of labor. I write for a living; I also live to write. The threat of AI, then, begins to feel personal, even if its implementation is strictly business.”

Min Chen, “How Digital Artist 0xDEAFBEEF’s New NFT Project Reimagines Muybridge’s 19th-Century Motion Studies for the Blockchain”, in Artnet News, May 4, 2023

“That’s a great use, but only one use of the rich potential of programmable blockchains, which I see more generally as a means of structuring social interactions around a common reference point,” he added. “I think the participatory/interactive dimension is a unique affordance of this medium and worth exploring, as it has been by many artists.” 0xDEAFBEEF

Will Oremus, “He wrote a book on a rare subject. Then a ChatGPT replica appeared on Amazon”, in The Washington Post, May 5, 2023

“From product reviews to recipes to blog posts and press releases, human authorship of online material is on track to become the exception rather than the norm. “If you have a connection to the internet, you have consumed AI-generated content,” said Jonathan Greenglass, a New York-based tech investor focused on e-commerce. “It’s already here.””

“Without grounding, the system can make stuff up. And if it’s that same made-up thing all over the world, how do you trace it back to what reality is?” Margaret Mitchell, chief ethics scientist at the AI start-up Hugging Face

“That business is driven by a simple equation: how much it costs to create an article vs. how much revenue it can bring in. The main goal is to attract as many clicks as possible, then serve the readers ads worth just fractions of a cent on each visit — the classic form of clickbait.”

Joshua Citarella, “The Platform Wars”, 10 mag 2023

“The Platform Wars is a stage of social media where platforms viciously compete for data and users by locking out features and the ability to move between these now distinct spheres. While this somewhat existed before, it will soon massively ramp up.”

“Right now, I’m writing on Substack. Later I will post the article to Twitter. Then I will screenshot it and post to Instagram Stories. After, I’ll remediate the text to Patreon which I will post in the Discord that will notify everyone when I’m live on Twitch likely reading this very post... This increased level of administrative friction will slowly disincentivize creators from posting on every platform and lead them to optimize for a select few. Perhaps even just one.”

Ben Davis, “An Artist Asked ChatGPT How to Make a Popular Memecoin. The Result Is ‘TurboToad,’ and People Are Betting Millions of Dollars on It”, in Artnet News, May 9, 2023

“This year has been really dead. I have really been struggling to get eyeballs on my art.” Rhett Mankind

Ted Chiang, “Will A.I. Become the New McKinsey?”, in The New Yorker, May 4, 2023

“As it is currently deployed, A.I. often amounts to an effort to analyze a task that human beings perform and figure out a way to replace the human being. Coincidentally, this is exactly the type of problem that management wants solved. As a result, A.I. assists capital at the expense of labor... Can A.I. do anything to assist workers instead of management?”

“If we cannot come up with ways for A.I. to reduce the concentration of wealth, then I’d say it’s hard to argue that A.I. is a neutral technology, let alone a beneficial one.”

“If there is any lesson that we should take from stories about genies granting wishes, it’s that the desire to get something without effort is the real problem... The tendency to think of A.I. as a magical problem solver is indicative of a desire to avoid the hard work that building a better world requires. That hard work will involve things like addressing wealth inequality and taming capitalism. For technologists, the hardest work of all—the task that they most want to avoid—will be questioning the assumption that more technology is always better, and the belief that they can continue with business as usual and everything will simply work itself out.”

Dave Troy, “The Wide Angle: Understanding TESCREAL — the Weird Ideologies Behind Silicon Valley’s Rightward Turn”, The Washington Spectator, May 1, 2023

“Dr. Timnit Gebru, a prominent AI researcher... has partnered with other researchers and philosophers to coin the (somewhat unwieldy) acronym “TESCREAL” to describe the overlapping emergent belief systems that characterize the contrarian, AI-centric worldviews challenging progressivism. It stands for: Transhumanism, Extropianism, Singularitarianism, Cosmism, Rationalism, Effective Altruism, and Longtermism.”

“The biggest risk AI poses right now is that alarmists will use the fears surrounding it as a cudgel to enact sweeping policy reforms. We should resist those efforts. Now more than ever, we should be guided by expertise, facts, and evidence as we seek to use technology in ways that benefit everyone.”

Adam Lindemann, “‘I Have Sold More Than 30 Million Dollars in NFTs’: Iconoclastic Digital Artist Refik Anadol in Conversation With Collector Adam Lindemann”, in Artnet News, May 3, 2023

“being on the edge of technological innovation allows us to make things that have never been seen.”

[On Jerry Saltz's review] “I think it’s a very common pattern for people who are pushing the boundaries of new things to face this. I think these are self-anointed gatekeepers: people not ready for change, not ready for a new world. I’ve always encountered those people in my journey since the beginning. It’s a very common pattern for me, so I didn’t feel it was fresh at all.”

“Art is art, and it won’t be affected by the medium in which it is exhibited.”

Restrict AI Illustration from Publishing: An Open Letter”, in Center for Artistic Inquiry and Reporting, May 2, 2023

“AI-art generators are trained on enormous datasets, containing millions upon millions of copyrighted images, harvested without their creator’s knowledge, let alone compensation or consent. This is effectively the greatest art heist in history. Perpetrated by respectable-seeming corporate entities backed by Silicon Valley venture capital. It’s daylight robbery.”

“Generative AI art is vampirical, feasting on past generations of artwork even as it sucks the lifeblood from living artists. Over time, this will impoverish our visual culture. Consumers will be trained to accept this art-looking art, but the ingenuity, the personal vision, the individual sensibility, the humanity will be missing.”

Hito Steyerl, “The Fifth Wall”, in HAU, November 2021

“pandemia left people little choice but to perform on corporate stages, and in the process become readable and transparent to them.”

Valentino Catricalà, “Rebecca Allen and the Birth of Virtual Reality”, in Right Click Save, April 28, 2023

“even today, nobody knows how consciousness works and yet we’re developing virtual and augmented reality. I find it interesting that we’re doing all this without really even knowing how our own reality works.”

Douglas Rushkoff, “The Day the Dotcom Bust Began”, in Medium, March 8, 2023

“the overwhelming consensus was that we were witnessing a tide change in business history: the young eating the mature, new media conquering old media, creative destruction, the dawn of the digital economy, or the Internet Revolution.”

Lee Vinsel, “You’re Doing It Wrong: Notes on Criticism and Technology Hype”, in Medium, February 1, 2021

“I’ve become increasingly aware of critical writing that is parasitic upon and even inflates hype... The kinds of critics that I am talking about invert boosters’ messages — they retain the picture of extraordinary change but focus instead on negative problems and risks. It’s as if they take press releases from startups and cover them with hellscapes.”

“wishful worries are a kind of entertainment. We are, after all, a people that regularly feasts upon dystopian science fiction. Imaginary fears can be fun.”

“at the worst, what these researchers do is take the sensational claims of boosters and entrepreneurs, flip them, and start talking about “risks.” They become the professional concern trolls of technoculture.”

“I will refer to criticism that both feeds and feeds on hype as criti-hype, a term I find both absurd and ugly-cute, like a pug. (Criti-hype is less mean than the alternative, hype-o-crit, though the latter is often more accurate.)”

“The problems I explore below develop when people begin working on the ethics and governance of technological situations that aren’t real — and not just “aren’t real” in the sense aren’t yet real but aren’t even realistic projections of where the science and technology is headed. Criti-hypers play up fantastic worries to offer solutions, and as we’ll see, often they do this for reasons of self-interest —including self-interest as in $$$$$$$$$$.”

“innovation-speak distracts us from ordinary problems of technology and infrastructure, including maintenance, repair, and mundane labor. We need to be more honest and reflexive about how innovation-speak has shaped academic social science and humanities research.”

Will Douglas Heaven, “Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build”, in MIT Technology Review, May 2, 2023

“Hinton says that the new generation of large language models—especially GPT-4, which OpenAI released in March—has made him realize that machines are on track to be a lot smarter than he thought they’d be. And he’s scared about how that might play out. “These things are totally different from us,” he says. “Sometimes I think it’s as if aliens had landed and people haven’t realized because they speak very good English.””

“For 40 years, Hinton has seen artificial neural networks as a poor attempt to mimic biological ones. Now he thinks that’s changed: in trying to mimic what biological brains do, he thinks, we’ve come up with something better. “It’s scary when you see that,” he says. “It’s a sudden flip.””

“Hinton now thinks there are two types of intelligence in the world: animal brains and neural networks. “It’s a completely different form of intelligence,” he says. “A new and better form of intelligence.””

““I have suddenly switched my views on whether these things are going to be more intelligent than us. I think they’re very close to it now and they will be much more intelligent than us in the future,” he says. “How do we survive that?””

Stefano Quintarelli, “Let’s forget the term AI. Let’s call them Systematic Approaches to Learning Algorithms and Machine Inferences (SALAMI)”, November 24, 2019

“the first and foremost AI bias is its name. It induces analogies that have limited adhrence to reality and it generates infinite speculations (some of them causing excessive expectations and fears). Because of this misconception, we proposed we should drop the usage of the term “Artificial Intelligence” and adopt a more appropriate and scoped-limited terminology for these technologies which better describe what these technologies are: Systematic Approaches to Learning Algorithms and Machine Inferences. Now we have redefined the name, will we still support the idea that SALAMI will develop some form of consciouness?”

Elizabeth Weil, “You Are Not a Parrot”, in Intelligencer, March 1, 2023

“[LLMs] are great at mimicry and bad at facts. Why? LLMs, like the octopus, have no access to real-world, embodied referents. This makes LLMs beguiling, amoral, and the Platonic ideal of the bullshitter, as philosopher Harry Frankfurt, author of On Bullshit, defined the term. Bullshitters, Frankfurt argued, are worse than liars. They don’t care whether something is true or false. They care only about rhetorical power — if a listener or reader is persuaded.”

“We’ve learned to make “machines that can mindlessly generate text,” Bender told me when we met this winter. “But we haven’t learned how to stop imagining the mind behind it.””

““I feel like there’s too much effort trying to create autonomous machines,” Bender said, “rather than trying to create machines that are useful tools for humans.””

"She then spoke at length about the problems of the computational metaphor, one of the most important metaphors in all of science: the idea that the human brain is a computer, and a computer is a human brain. This notion, she said, quoting Alexis T. Baria and Keith Cross’s 2021 paper, affords “the human mind less complexity than is owed, and the computer more wisdom than is due.””

“No wonder that men who live day in and day out with machines to which they believe themselves to have become slaves begin to believe that men are machines.” Joseph Weizenbaum, who created ELIZA

“There’s a narcissism that reemerges in the AI dream that we are going to prove that everything we thought was distinctively human can actually be accomplished by machines and accomplished better,” Judith Butler

Cory Doctorow, “The AI hype bubble is the new crypto hype bubble”, in Medium, March 9, 2023

“Anything that can’t go on forever will eventually stop. We’re told that trillions of dollars’ worth of crypto has been wiped out over the past year, but these losses are nowhere to be seen in the real economy — because the “wealth” that was wiped out by the crypto bubble’s bursting never existed in the first place.”

“Blockchain was a solution in search of a problem. So is AI.”

“Markets value automation primarily because automation allows capitalists to pay workers less. The textile factory owners who purchased automatic looms weren’t interested in giving their workers raises and shorting working days. They wanted to fire their skilled workers and replace them with small children kidnapped out of orphanages and indentured for a decade, starved and beaten and forced to work, even after they were mangled by the machines.”

Ben Davis, “Is Crafting ‘Super Prompts’ for A.I. Generators the Art of the Future? Probably Not”, in Artnet News, April 27, 2023

“Given the realities of both creativity (rare) and the digital economy (cutthroat), it seems to me that the latter is going to much more define the impact these tools have on culture.”

“The prompt economy exists to capture whatever value is in an artist’s signature style, and to reprocess it into a generic look—without them... a proper name is a shortcut to reverse engineer all the steps that an artist has put, over hours and months, into crafting a look that feels unique.”

Tate Ryan-Mosley, “How an undercover content moderator polices the metaverse”, in MIT Technology Review, April 28, 2023

“The moderators record everything that happens in the game from the time they join to the time they leave, including conversations between players. Some games give mods administrative privileges to hear everything that players are saying, even if the players themselves have not enabled full access to all other players. This lets them listen in on conversations that players might think are private.”

April 2023

Erik Salvaggio, “In Defense of Human Senses”, in Cybernetic Forests, April 30, 2023

“if humans saw images the way the AI sees images, we would be dissolving them with stomach acid in order to understand how the paper breaks down so that we could recreate it from a puddle of our own vomit.”

A.V. Marraccini, “Ethereal Presence. NFTs and the theater of risk”, in Artforum, June 16, 2022

“whatever digital form the NFT ultimately takes, be it a JPEG image, moving GIF, audio file, or 3-D model, it consists of at least two media: the para-medium of code that constitutes the smart contract wrapper, and the file “inside” it. Through the para-medium or wrapper of the smart contract, all NFTs become a kind of performance of exchange.”

"the hyper-capitalization of NFTs is in large part responsible for the distaste they have inspired in the contemporary art world, but it is paradoxically what also enables them, combined with the implicit theatricality conferred by the para-medium of the smart contract, to turn back and effectively critique the forms of capital that they embody.”

Jaron Lanier, “There Is No A.I.”, in The New Yorker, April 20, 2023

“many of the people who are pursuing the A.I. dream also worry that it might mean doomsday for mankind. It is widely stated, even by scientists at the very center of today’s efforts, that what A.I. researchers are doing could result in the annihilation of our species, or at least in great harm to humanity, and soon.”

“The most pragmatic position is to think of A.I. as a tool, not a creature... Mythologizing the technology only makes it more likely that we’ll fail to operate it well—and this kind of thinking limits our imaginations, tying them to yesterday’s dreams. We can work better under the assumption that there is no such thing as A.I. The sooner we understand this, the sooner we’ll start managing our new technology intelligently.”

“f the new tech isn’t true artificial intelligence, then what is it? In my view, the most accurate way to understand what we are building today is as an innovative form of social collaboration.”

Kyle Chayka, “The Post-Platform Internet”, in Kyle Chayka Industries, April 16, 2023

“The most important thing to keep in mind as we decide which new platforms to invest our time and energy into is that we should be seeking out control and stability in these spaces. We should be able to influence how they function and how we are treated as users. Otherwise we’re doomed to repeat the mistakes of the last decade and end up adrift once more.”

Kyle Chayka, “BuzzFeed, Blue Check Marks, and the End of an Internet Era”, in The New Yorker, April 21, 2023

“we can’t rely on large digital platforms that are motivated by profit above all, and there is no guarantee they will protect or support us or work to deliver the best experiences possible. Instead, they will continue to encourage us to churn out content for free; they will work ruthlessly to capture our attention and then commodify it through every possible avenue. Those huge, public networks are growing riskier, messier, and less enticing by the day; the rocket that drove their explosive growth is faltering.”

“The next decade of the Internet is likely to yield more cloistered digital spaces that seek to correct the ills of Big Social Media. The looming “post-platform” era, as it is already being called, will consist of smaller online communities connecting through group texts, Reddit forums, Discord servers, and e-mail newsletters. It won’t run on public spectacle like the Web we’ve become accustomed to; virality may no longer be the goal. But it may at least offer a less exploitative mode of existing online. In a way, it will resemble an earlier version of the Internet, operating on a tried-and-true principle: friends are more trustworthy than strangers.”

Ryan Broderick, “Breaking Up The Web To Make A Worse One”, in Garbage Day, 19 apr 2023

“It’s hard not to look at both reactions — Washington’s desire to kill the open internet to defeat TikTok and Silicon Valley’s warnings of some sentient god AI — as two sides of the same coin. And that’s especially true because both panic responses are very clearly just a cover for other projects entirely. Banning TikTok is about finally being able to censor what Americans do online. And a large chunk of the folks who signed that big scary open letter asking for a pause on AI development only did so because they need some time to make their own.”

Sarah Friend, “Asset Logic”, in Texte Zur Kunst, Issue No. 127 / September 2022 "Resortization", p. 88.

“Unlike most art forms, you can’t make an NFT without the market.”

“fungibility is an abstraction... The dollar bill has two lives, one as a symbol and one as an object.”

“The NFT is for sale right from its creation – no soft gestation in the studio, no ask-only price list. You don’t have to create a listing. The NFT is visible already, and I can place a bid. Yes, you the creator or owner can hide it, but only after it has been listed in the first place. The market is the default.”

“There is a community of creators and collectors of NFTs who do not know or care about the norms and codes of “contemporary art” – and why should they? Who are you to tell them what the emperor is wearing? It’s not even a conversation. They have their own emperor. His name is Justin Sun. Or maybe punk #-something.”

“Capitalism enjoys it when you resist, because that’s how it finds new things to enclose.” (Rhea Myers)

Boris Eldagsen, “Sony World Photography Awards 2023”, April 18, 2023

”As a medium photography has always been at the forefront: constantly adapting and evolving, it has a singular ability to transform itself and push boundaries. We are interested in photography as an art form, and within the Sony World Photography Awards we have our Creative categories in the Professional and Open Competitions which welcome photographers to experiment and explore the dynamism of the medium. With technological advancements, a wider audience of creators are engaging with lens-based work and we look forward to seeing how this can expand the reach and impact of photography.”

Will Knight, “Some Glimpse AGI in ChatGPT. Others Call It a Mirage”, in Wired, Apr 18, 2023

“We’re getting this tremendous amount of raw intelligence without it necessarily coming with an ego-viewpoint, goals, or a sense of coherent self. That, to me, is just fascinating.” Noah Goodman

Terry Nguyen, “Which face is real? DALL-E art at Gagosian”, in Dirt, Apr 11, 2023

“increased exposure to, and the proliferation of, AI-generated images will have an effect similar to photographic paresthesia. We may not be as shaken by their existence. In fact, we could even grow numb to them. Still, upon recognition, such images may make our skin crawl. Our eyes will alert us to the off-ness of synthetic body parts, like warped fingers or glassy eyes. We’re going to have to learn to look closer. Seeing doesn’t necessarily mean believing.”

Kyle Chayka, “A.I. Pop Culture Is Already Here”, in The New Yorker, April 7, 2023

“execution may have been democratized by generative A.I., but ideas have not. The human is still the originator, editor, and curator of A.I.’s effects.”

Adina Glickstein, “User Error: Partially Automated Shithole Capitalism”, in Spike, April 4, 2023

”these sci-fi-inflected narratives do more to shore up the power of companies like OpenAI – large and notionally beneficent, but totally opaque and pretty much absent of external oversight – than they do to catalyze any meaningful effort toward guiding new technology in a progressive direction. In that sense, the “x-risk” discourse is pretty evidently the perverse fantasy of a bunch of people who previously considered themselves to be secure, i.e., class-privileged and largely white people with well-paid tech jobs, realizing that the ground they stand on is not so stable after all. In other words: classic male insecurity, inflated to the level of existential importance.”

Dejan Grba, “Faux Semblants: A Critical Outlook on the Commercialization of Digital Art”, Digital 2023, 3, 67-80

“the majority of involved artists are focused on navigating, experimenting, and exploiting the NFT landscape for profit, recognition, or institutional support. They largely remain unaware or seem oblivious of the technical problems of the crypto economy, its ideological background, and its ethical, political, and creative consequences, which were identified upon the very introduction of blockchain.“ (p. 71)

“By accelerating trading frequency and market saturation, the crypto regime emphasizes the default ethical dilemma of the creator’s priorities: making art or making money. In a broader perspective, this may be regarded as the primary “value” of NFTs.” (p. 74)

“In general, artists do not solve global-scale problems; when successful, their work can instigate relatively small, individualized, and often transient changes in a complex web of non-mindful existential games. Acknowledging these limitations and cultivating a critical outlook on their creative means and economic instruments are necessary for digital artists to resolve the poetic contradiction of imposing false non-fungibility on inherently fungible digital data, and the ethical and political contradictions of monetizing artworks within the current crypto/blockchain regime.” (pp. 76-77)

Claire Bishop, “INFORMATION OVERLOAD”, in Artforum, April 2023

“There are many reasons to be skeptical of the Ph.D.-in-fine-art boom. One is that it exacerbates hierarchies of economic privilege already endemic to art education. Another is that art, under the pressure of academicization, becomes tame, systematic, and professional. For artist Hito Steyerl, “artistic research” has even become a new discipline, one that normalizes, regulates, and ensures the repetition of protocols.”

“research-based installation art—its techniques of display, its accumulation and spatialization of information, its model of research, its construction of a viewing subject, and its relationship to knowledge and truth—cannot be understood in isolation from contemporaneous developments in digital technology.”

Ben Davis, “How We Ended Up in the Era of ‘Quantitative Aesthetics,’ Where Data Points Dictate Taste”, in Artnet News, March 30, 2023

“Daniel Yankelovich, the sociologist who coined the term “McNamara Fallacy,” actually outlined it as a process, one that could be broken out into four steps of escalating intellectual danger. Here they are, as it is commonly broken down, with his commentary on each:

  1. Measure whatever can be easily measured. (This is OK as far as it goes.)
  2. Disregard that which can’t be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. (This is artificial and misleading.)
  3. Presume that what can’t be measured easily really isn’t important. (This is blindness.)
  4. Say that what can’t be easily measured really doesn’t exist. (This is suicide.)

Based on the data I have, I’d say that we as a culture are approaching somewhere between the third and fourth steps.”

Eryk Salvaggio, “Searching for Posthumanist AI”, in Cybernetic Forests, March 26, 2023

“AI is a not a God or a newly discovered fungus with secret competencies. AI is a series of decisions made by people working at companies to sell product. Mythologies like this are dangerous: they ask us to respect a “life form” rather than ask for human accountability in its design and outcomes... AI is not independent from humans or beyond our own agency. It’s not an always-already state of the world. It’s a bunch of human design decisions inscribed into code, with emergent properties. We don’t owe it anything. It is us.”

“AI will reshape the world, and I am not a skeptic in the sense that I think technologies won’t disrupt our lives. I am skeptical that something like today’s automation will bring us any closer to decentering ourselves from the cycle of destruction and extraction that we’re embedded in. If we look to AI as something more than ourselves, we’re going to deceive ourselves into following our instincts toward our own supremacy — at our own peril.”

Caroline Busta, “The internet didn’t kill counterculture—you just won’t find it on Instagram”, in Document, January 14, 2021

“In an era more profoundly organized by Big Tech than our own elected governments, the new culture to be countered isn’t singular or top-down. It’s rhizomatic, nonbinary, and includes all who live within the Google/Apple/Facebook/Amazon digital ecosystem (aka GAFA stack). With digital platforms transforming legacy countercultural activity into profitable, high-engagement content, being countercultural no longer means being counter-hegemonic. What logic could possibly be upended by punks, goths, gabbers, or neo-pagans when the internet, a massively lucrative space of capitalization, profits off the personal expression and political conflict of its users?”

“To be truly countercultural today, in a time of tech hegemony, one has to, above all, betray the platform, which may come in the form of betraying or divesting from your public online self.”

“It’s as if, having grown up on a fully networked Earth, Gen Z has bypassed counterculture, finding it futile in the face of a hegemonic system that more clearly resembles a Hydra than the monolithic forces that legacy counterculture was rebelling against. Intuiting that any activity directly opposing the system will only make the system stronger, the next generation is instead opting for radical hyperstition: constructing alternative futures that abandon our current infrastructure entirely.”

Yancey Strickler, “The Dark Forest Theory of the Internet”, in Medium, May 20, 2019

“Imagine a dark forest at night. It’s deathly quiet. Nothing moves. Nothing stirs. This could lead one to assume that the forest is devoid of life. But of course, it’s not. The dark forest is full of life. It’s quiet because night is when the predators come out. To survive, the animals stay silent... This is also what the internet is becoming: a dark forest. In response to the ads, the tracking, the trolling, the hype, and other predatory behaviors, we’re retreating to our dark forests of the internet, and away from the mainstream.”

“Dark forests like newsletters and podcasts are growing areas of activity. As are other dark forests, like Slack channels, private Instagrams, invite-only message boards, text groups, Snapchat, WeChat, and on and on... These are all spaces where depressurized conversation is possible because of their non-indexed, non-optimized, and non-gamified environments. The cultures of those spaces have more in common with the physical world than the internet.”

“those of us building dark forests risk underestimating how powerful the mainstream channels will continue to be, and how minor our havens are compared to their immensity.”

Caroline Busta and Lil Internet, “Holographic Media”, in Outland, March 31, 2023

“each era of technology has a unique “physics”—a term we use to describe the hard-coded mechanics and incentives of every media platform, whether digital or analog. Users are as bound to these conditions when operating within a given platform as they are to gravity when walking on Earth. Platform physics are the ways in which a medium’s design determines a piece of content’s nature, the content’s “natural motion” through a network, its recipients’ responses, and the various nth order effects of this content being in circulation.”

“Present-day media should be taxonomized not by format or scale or genre but by how well they compose their own media ecosystem—how nimbly an outlet can work across various platforms and protocols, from clearnet to dark forest... The more varied an outlet’s spread of platforms, the less beholden it is to any single one. The less bound it is by any one platform’s physics.”

“Illegibility. Poetry. Speaking even more in diagrams, images, metaphors, collages, neologisms—forms of language that AI (and the Mids) do not yet understand. These are tools for avoiding the Mid-void.”

“Crypto is a scam, too, and everyone knows it. OK, blockchain is not inherently a scam, but the scam potential in recent years was just too big to not scam. Uniquely, crypto created a massive, social media-based scam, with hundreds of thousands of people actively evangelizing ideas they believed only because there was a monetary incentive to do so.”

“To gain agency in today’s media space, you need to overcome the physics of its software. By thinking meta, you can build new protocols, structures that allow truth and trust to emerge. Whether through blockchain tools, new nested internets, or meta-assemblages of various platforms and apps, the future of media will come from experiments taking place at the level of protocol.”

Shumon Basar, “Predicting the Present”, in Outland, March 27, 2023

““lorecore”: “an era, belonging to digital capitalism, characterized by people’s existential need to storify themselves at the very moment global narratives collapse.””

Yuval Harari, Tristan Harris, Aza Raskin, “Yuval Harari on Threats to Humanity Posed by A.I.”, in The New York Times, March 24, 2023

“In 2022, over 700 top academics and researchers behind the leading artificial intelligence companies were asked in a survey about future A.I. risk. Half of those surveyed stated that there was a 10 percent or greater chance of human extinction (or similarly permanent and severe disempowerment) from future A.I. systems. Technology companies building today’s large language models are caught in a race to put all of humanity on that plane.”

“simply by gaining mastery of language, A.I. would have all it needs to contain us in a Matrix-like world of illusions, without shooting anyone or implanting any chips in our brains. If any shooting is necessary, A.I. could make humans pull the trigger, just by telling us the right story.”

“Social media was the first contact between A.I. and humanity, and humanity lost... While very primitive, the A.I. behind social media was sufficient to create a curtain of illusions that increased societal polarization, undermined our mental health and unraveled democracy. Millions of people have confused these illusions with reality.”

Ross Douthat, “The Return of the Magicians”, in The New York Times, March 2, 2023

“in the U.F.O. fascination and the A.I. enthusiasm and the drug-enabled “psychonaut” explorations, we see attempts to link magic to science, or to deploy science to do magic, using telescopes or chemicals or vast computing powers to discover or create what the old magicians tried to conjure — namely, beings that can enlighten us, elevate us, serve us and usher in the Age of Aquarius, the Singularity or both.”

Simon Hattenstone, “Tech guru Jaron Lanier: ‘The danger isn’t that AI destroys us. It’s that it drives us insane’”, in The Guardian, March 23, 2023

“From my perspective, the danger isn’t that a new alien entity will speak through our technology and take over and destroy us. To me the danger is that we’ll use our technology to become mutually unintelligible or to become insane if you like, in a way that we aren’t acting with enough understanding and self-interest to survive, and we die through insanity, essentially.”

March 2023

Jill Lepore, “The Data Delusion”, in The New Yorker, 27/3/2023

“Commerce in the twenty-first century is espionage for profit.”

Taylor Dafoe, “Sculptor Maya Lin Will Release Her First NFT Project, a Generative Art Series Based on the Root Systems of Trees, This Spring”, in Artnet News, March 23, 2023

“There’s no reason a JPEG or an MP4 needs to be on the blockchain, whereas generative code can’t exist in quite the same way anywhere else.” Pace Verso head Ariel Hudes

Chloe Xiang, “People Are Creating Records of Fake Historical Events Using AI”, in Motherboard, March 27, 2023

“as AI innovation occurs at a speed that is hard to keep up with, maintaining and creating adequate safeguards will be challenging. People will still fall for images, especially as they are shared without context. Experts are warning users to be on the lookout for AI-generated images and to be more critical than ever when seeing an image, rather than automatically assuming that it is real.”

Joshua Citarella, “Irony Politics & Gen Z (part 2)”, March 13, 2023

“The cultural nichification of the internet is producing communities so polarized that they have almost no concept of a shared reality or grand narrative.”

“Continued exposure to cringe content might allow us to recapture our lost humanist values. As a culture, we are now attempting to work through irony and arrive again at a place of real beliefs. We now systematically increase our tolerance to cringe so that we can join the political movement without fear or shame. Cringe is the antidote for late capitalist nihilism. That's why the ironic crusaders want to stomp it out.”

“Unlike most other forms of media, memes do not tend to fatigue or oversaturate their viewers. Instead, the more one sees a meme, the more one wants to see that meme more. In this way, memes function as a type of exploit in today's attention economy. Potent memes will get stuck in your head for days. Once the concept takes hold, it becomes difficult to mentally steer out of. Memes nudge our way of thinking. They become a type of augmented reality, overlaying the world and social relationships.”

Joshua Citarella, “Irony Politics & Gen Z (part 1)”, March 9, 2023

“In observing the online content teenagers produce, we can see that Gen Z has learned to expect less than earlier generations. Given that real wages have been stagnant for nearly forty years, life expectancy is declining, and the environment is collapsing, this makes sense. Things are getting worse.”

“irony had never been apolitical. Ironic propaganda functions the same as real propaganda. Ironic voting is just voting.”

“the overwhelming majority of edgy teens on TikTok are not living out the ideology they profess online... Further exploring these users’ pages reveals the abundance of ideological inconsistencies one might expect from contrarian teenagers.”

“Teens are becoming politicized because they have been handed a world in crisis... For young people in a political landscape whose only options are a dead-end future or a return to brutal hierarchies of the past, there is, as right-wing influencers will tell them, seemingly no choice. Reactionary politics flourish most when it is difficult to imagine a better future.”

Tina Rivers Ryan, “Sasha Stiles. Transcending digital dualism through networked poetry”, in Artforum, March 15, 2023

“Humans invented poetry as a data storage system. All the devices that we learn as poetic techniques—rhyme, rhythm, meter, assonance, repetition—aren’t just aesthetic; they have utility in that they helped make spoken language easier to remember before the advent of the written word.” Sasha Stiles

“Artificial intelligence, too, is often regarded as alien or antihuman, when actually it’s hyperhuman—a system built by humans for ingesting, processing, synthesizing, utilizing vast quantities of human information.” Sasha Stiles

Stephen Zacks, “Land of the Free Market”, in Outland, February 24, 2023

“At the moment, the metaverse remains a fairly inchoate project. It isn’t solving any real-world architectural or economic and political problems, but it also hasn’t caused any real-world harm. Yet the hopes expressed for the emerging metaverse—in Liberland and beyond—are reminiscent of the late 1990s, when it was common to believe that nearly free and universal access to information would have a democratizing effect on the world. As some predicted, this potential to level power imbalances and offer more influence to the general public has been offset in large measure by rent-seeking corporations that govern our online attention as a speculative gambit in search of short-term profits. Now, too, venture capitalists are assembling piles of dollars to capture the metaverse market. Rebranded as Meta, Facebook has obviously bet on remaining a social media monopoly by dominating it. What we need is a Wikipedia-style collaborative framework that would govern based on a common interest in being well-informed. More likely, a new player will emerge out of a Wild West of small, highly capitalized startups. But will they be looking for anything other than a return on investment?”

Kyle Chayka, “Bing A.I. and the Dawn of the Post-Search Internet”, in The New Yorker, March 21, 2023

“So much of the current Web was designed around aggregation... What value will those sites have when A.I. can do the aggregation for us? If Google Search is an imperfect book index, telling us where to find the material we need, Bing A.I. is SparkNotes, allowing us to bypass the source material altogether... The paradox of A.I., though, is that it relies on the source material—the vast sea of information that other sites create—to generate its answers. For that reason, it’s easy to imagine a kind of vicious cycle caused by the widespread adoption of tools like Bing A.I. If users don’t have to visit sites directly anymore, then those sites’ business models, based on advertising and subscriptions, will collapse. But if those sites can no longer produce content then A.I. tools won’t have fresh, reliable material to digest and regurgitate.”

Alfred/Dave Steiner, “Bored Apes & Monkey Selfies: Copyright & PFP NFTs”, in SSRN, May 21, 2022

“The promise of transferring copyright in a PFP to its buyer is not without problems. For one thing, there may not be any more copyright in a particular PFP than there is in a monkey selfie. And even if there were a copyright to be transferred, ensuring there’s a signed writing for each transfer is a non-trivial matter. Moreover, PFP creators who purport to transfer copyright to each PFP buyer without drafting the transfer language carefully may be left without rights in the project’s artwork, and may also be exposing themselves to claims from aggrieved PFP buyers.”

Alfred/Dave Steiner, “The Paper It’s Printed On: NFTs, Ownership and Conceptual Art”, in SSRN, December 30, 2021

“You own an NFT when the code says you own it... Of course, because ownership is—at least for the time being—fundamentally a legal concept and not a technological concept, the technological answer may not always conform to the legal answer.”

“assuming Metakovan has the same rights as a typical NFT buyer in the associated Digital Resource (i.e., the right to publicly display the work for non-commercial purposes), what more can he do than any member of the public? Well, he could permit a museum to display the Digital Resource, use it for his Instagram profile picture, or hang it in his metaverse home, but not much more. Those twigs in the bundle of possible ownership rights is what I call Metakovan’s “Private Rights” in Everydays. And those Private Rights, together with the ability to transfer the digital ledger entry, are what Metakovan paid $69 million for.”

“Using paper certificates, Weiner and other conceptual artists succeeded in converting what would otherwise be public goods into valuable private goods. That value, of course, is associated exclusively with the artist’s reputation. And, because these works are intangible but not protectable by copyright or other legal doctrines, that value (and the work’s aura) inheres entirely in the paper certificate. NFTs have performed an analogous transubstantiation for digital art, relocating the aura and value of the work not in a paper certificate but in a digital ledger entry.”

Arun Kakar, “Two Years since the Historic Beeple Sale, What’s Happened to the NFT Market?”, in Artsy, March 10, 2023

“As speculators lose interest and institutions begin supporting these artworks, NFTs are arguably in a healthier, more sustainable place within the art world than they were two years ago.”

Terry Nguyen, “Skeuomorphia”, in Dirt, March 17, 2023

““Skeuomorph” was coined by an English archaeologist in the late 19th century. It has since been used, typically in architecture or archaeology, to refer to objects or buildings with ornamental design properties that are included not for functionality's sake, but due to their past significance: light bulbs shaped like candle flames and decorative handles on sliding doors. The intent behind skeuomorphic design, deliberate or otherwise, is to present the viewer with familiar aesthetic cues. It creates a sense of false realism in graphic design.”

James Bridle, “The stupidity of AI”, in The Guardian, March 16, 2023

“far from being the magical, novel creations of brilliant machines, the outputs of this kind of AI is entirely dependent on the uncredited and unremunerated work of generations of human artists. AI image and text generation is pure primitive accumulation: expropriation of labour from the many for the enrichment and advancement of a few Silicon Valley technology companies and their billionaire owners.”

“AI image generators, in their attempt to understand and replicate the entirety of human visual culture, seem to have recreated our darkest fears as well. Perhaps this is just a sign that these systems are very good indeed at aping human consciousness, all the way down to the horror that lurks in the depths of existence: our fears of filth, death and corruption. And if so, we need to acknowledge that these will be persistent components of the machines we build in our own image. There is no escaping such obsessions and dangers, no moderating or engineering away the reality of the human condition.”

“While claims about AI’s “creativity” might be overblown – there is no true originality in image generation, only very skilled imitation and pastiche – that doesn’t mean it isn’t capable of taking over many common “artistic” tasks long considered the preserve of skilled workers, from illustrators and graphic designers to musicians, videographers and, indeed, writers. This is a huge shift. AI is now engaging with the underlying experience of feeling, emotion and mood, and this will allow it to shape and influence the world at ever deeper and more persuasive levels.”

“ChatGPT is... inherently stupid. It has read most of the internet, and it knows what human language is supposed to sound like, but it has no relation to reality whatsoever. It is dreaming sentences that sound about right, and listening to it talk is frankly about as interesting as listening to someone’s dreams. It is very good at producing what sounds like sense, and best of all at producing cliche and banality, which has composed the majority of its diet, but it remains incapable of relating meaningfully to the world as it actually is.”

“there has never been a time when our ability as individuals to research and critically evaluate knowledge on our own behalf has been more necessary, not least because of the damage that technology companies have already done to the ways in which information is disseminated. To place all of our trust in the dreams of badly programmed machines would be to abandon such critical thinking altogether.”

“It’s hard to think of anything more utterly stupid than artificial intelligence, as it is practised in the current era.”

Orit Halpern, “Financializing Intelligence: On the Integration of Machines and Markets”, in e - flux Architecture, March 2023

“theories or models, to paraphrase Milton Friedman, “are engines not cameras.”One way to read that statement is that the model does not represent the world but makes it. Models make markets. Models in finance are instruments such as a derivative pricing equations or an algorithm for high-speed trading. There are assumptions built into these technologies about gathering data, comparing prices, betting, selling, and timing bets, but not about whether that information is correct or “true,” or whether the market is mapped or shown in its entirety. These theories are tools, and they let people create markets by arbitraging differences in prices without necessarily knowing everything about the entire market or asset.”

“This infrastructure for our contemporary noisy trading is not natural or inevitable, however. It was produced by the intersection of neo-liberal theory, psychology, and artificial intelligence. If today we swipe and click as a route to imagined wealth, we should ask how we have come to so unthinkingly and unconsciously accept the dictates of finance and technology.”

Matthew Mindrup, “(in)Exactitude and the Digital Twin: Limitations and Possibilities in Re-presenting the Built Environment”, in e - flux Architecture, February 2023

“Digital twins originated in the manufacturing industry as three-dimensional, virtual models of physical objects or systems with the aim of monitoring, controlling, and optimizing their performance. The term “digital twin” is relatively new and is typically ascribed to Michael Grieves who used the term in 2002 as part of his research into product lifecycle management. Yet Grieves himself attributes this term to his colleague at NASA, John Vickers, who employed the term several years later in his 2010 NASA roadmap to describe the ultra-realistic simulations of space capsules that could be designed, modelled, and tested without the cost and risks of actual launches. General Electric, Siemens, and Rolls Royce were also all designing rotors, turbines, and engines with the aid of digital simulations decades before the designation “digital twin” came into use.”

“within a digital twin, the digital model is no longer used for visualizing or guiding the construction of a design proposition. Rather, it acts as an avatar of an existing edifice... Not simply a static digital mock-up of an architectural project, a digital twin brings together data from subsystems and real-time interactions between people, processes, and connected things... What makes the digital twin so appealing is its role as both a virtual copy of a real object and resource of data about the processes actively occurring within its system.”

Kenny Schachter, “Kenny Schachter Pays a Mind-Bending Visit to Beeple’s New High-Tech Art Compound (Getting in Plenty of Trouble Along the Way)”, in Artnet News, March 14, 2023

“There were nearly as many private planes in the local airport as at any given Basel fair.”

Shumon Basar, “The Magic Kingdom. How not to think about Dubai”, in Bidoun, Issue 11: Failure, Summer 2007

“To be a critic today is to regret the exportation of ideas you have failed to confront on your own beat.”

“Dubai operates as one of these Zeitgeist mirror-surfaces for the West... For the neoliberal Right, Dubai is a phantasmagoric setting crafted in the perfect image of unbridled market capitalism (minus the democracy). For the political Left, Dubai may be just a grotesque reflection of the West’s worst endgames, manifest as that evil paradise.”

“Copies and imitations are not abstract ciphers but productions of reality in their own right. (A fake Gucci handbag is still a real handbag.) And with each imitation and recreation, the status of the so-called “original” alters.”

“In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Dr. Frankenstein’s biggest disappointment was that his creation didn’t love him. His biggest regret was setting the precedent in the first place.”

​R.H. Lossin, “Refik Anadol’s “Unsupervised””, in e-flux Criticism, March 14, 2023

“It is widely accepted that propaganda makes for bad art. But propaganda is not always an Uncle Sam poster. Sometimes it is a towering, spectacular argument for the supremacy of the machine; an exercise in post-industrial American triumphalism, surveillance technology, and repressive deep-state R&D disguised as visually appealing, non-referential images.”

“commissions from museums and commercial galleries will surely continue until the next person with adequate funding comes up with a prettier alibi for testing and refining the empire’s technologies of violence and domination on cultural consumers.”

“the most boring dreams ever”

“tech boosterism at its best”

““Unsupervised” is a program for the surveillance and colonization of collective space and the expropriation and control of forms of human creativity and production by companies that cannot be practically disentangled from the military. This is hard to discern through its fun, candy-colored spectacle, and this makes it, like Abstract Expressionism before it, all the more effective.”

“In 2022 the William S. Paley Foundation... sold a $70 million collection of paintings that had been housed by MoMA in order to fund the museum’s digital initiatives. From a certain perspective, trading Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso in for some NFTs is offensive on its face.”

“It is the cultural work that the spectacular AI is doing to normalize surveillance systems, to turn environmentally devastating computation into something pleasing and even soothing, and to actively participate in the refinement of technologies that can and certainly will be used by the military that is the problem.”

Kyle Chayka, “The Uncanny Failures of A.I.-Generated Hands”, in The New Yorker, March 10, 2023

“The machine’s failure is comforting, in a way. Hands are a symbol of humanity, “a direct correspondence between imagination and execution,” as Patti Smith recently wrote. As long as we are the only ones who understand them, perhaps our computers won’t wholly supplant us. The strange contortions of A.I. hands make me feel a sense of anticipatory nostalgia, for a future when the technology inevitably improves and we will look back on such flaws as a kitschy relic of the “early A.I.” era, the way grainy digital-camera photos are redolent of the two-thousands.”

“Like any struggling art student, A.I. tools will benefit from more training. “There’s a point when the structure and the contour come together for a student,” Soucie said. “That’s usually, like, the second year of college.””

Hana Kiros, “VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence”, in MIT Technology Review, August 6, 2022

“Psychedelics are a class of drugs unified by their ability to alter sensory perception and change the way we process information. Clinical trials incorporating these drugs, which have resurged after being shuttered in the 1970s, have demonstrated that psychedelic-assisted therapy is remarkably good at alleviating symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression, which have standard treatments that fail many.”

“Self-transcendent experiences exist on a spectrum. Getting lost in a great book could be considered a weak one; the ego death that high doses of psychedelics can induce is on the opposite end... What marks a self-transcendent experience is the dissolution of our typical self-definition as a discrete individual, separate from other people and the environment.”

“What happens in VR is that sense of completely forgetting about the existence of the external world... So there is definitely similarity there to this sense of experiencing an alternate reality under psychedelics that feels more real than what’s actually out there.” Agnieszka Sekula

“Jacob Aday, a psychiatry researcher at the University of California, San Francisco... thinks VR likely can downregulate the default mode network — a brain network that’s active when our thoughts aren’t directed at a specific task, and which psychedelics can suppress (scientists theorize that this is what causes ego death).”

Gita Jackson, “How a social network falls apart”, in The Verge, March 9, 2023

“In all of these cases — LiveJournal, Tumblr, Twitter, and even Something Awful — it’s the users who ultimately decide if the sites are viable. We are all just following a horde of posters as they find new places to post, looking for the places where posting feels safest and most plentiful. Twitter is already beginning its sad half-life as advertisers leave the platform and people look for the thing that will replace it, a problem that threatened Musk so much that he briefly banned links to competing social media platforms before reversing course. He knows as well as I do that a site doesn’t have to go offline to be dead.”

Mario Klingemann, “Latent Talent”, in Desk, March 13, 2023

“there are as many different latent spaces as there are models and neural architectures, nevertheless they share properties, behaviours and rules that allow us to apply the knowledge and techniques we learned in one space in any subsequent one we encounter later.”

"The way in which models create a latent space is by trying to arrange everything they learn in a configuration that makes it the most probable and efficient in that, when queried about it later, they will give a most likely correct answer. And the most efficient arrangement to find something again is to put things closer together that share features —like in a library where you do not expect to look for poetry in the natural history shelf.”

"To me the most exciting aspect of working with latent spaces is that we are approaching the point where all kinds of media are being “understood” by these models and, just like in our brains, we will be able to freely move between different media and different modes of expression within a continuous fluid space in a form of synesthesia where a song can be transformed into a visual, that visual can be translated into a poem and the poem might turn into another song. Which means that learning to understand and play latent spaces will become one of the most versatile talents one can acquire.”

Boris Groys, “Alexandre Kojève: Production of the Spirit”, in e-flux Journal, Issue #134, March 2023

“it is by work, and only by work, that man realizes himself objectively as man. Only after producing an artificial object is man himself really and objectively more than and different from a natural being … Therefore, it is only by work that man is a supernatural being that is conscious of its reality” Alexandre Kojève

“Under the conditions of modernity, this spiritualized dimension of the working class manifests itself as art. Art demonstrates that the utilitarian function of every kind of work, including industrial work, is merely accidental. The essential function of work is the production of the ascetic, spiritualized bodies of the working class.”

“A museum consisting exclusively of sheets covered in different uniform colors would be, without a doubt, a museum of paintings: and each of these paintings would be beautiful—and even absolutely beautiful—independent of whether or not it was “pretty,” which is to say, “pleasing” to some and “displeasing” to others, would be beautiful—and even absolutely beautiful.” Alexandre Kojève

Terry Nguyen, “The future of search”, in Dirt, March 3, 2023

“Google results don’t feel authentic, or even written by a real human because the top articles are all in this keyword-loaded language,” said Dmitri Brereton, an engineer who researches search engines and AI. “Social media, especially TikTok, solves that authenticity problem because some experiential things are just better seen. It can’t get more authentic than a video of a person dining at a restaurant.”

“In 2021, TikTok overtook Google’s 15-year reign as the world’s most popular web domain, according to data from CloudShare. Recent data from Morning Consult also found that Gen Z-aged adults are less likely to use Google search to investigate major news events, compared to older users. Instead, more are turning to TikTok.”

“Algorithmic oppression is no accident; it’s fundamental to how the internet operates.”

"This is perhaps another reason why users are compelled to search on TikTok. Their For You page makes them “feel seen” before they input a query. They are more likely to be met with a sympathetic human face, rather than a keyword-laden post. There is comfort in curated, anecdotal advice; it feels like a friend talking from experience. The response is always intimate and almost always interesting, even if it’s not clinical or factual.”

Kate Brown, “Hito Steyerl on Why NFTs and A.I. Image Generators Are Really Just ‘Onboarding Tools’ for Tech Conglomerates”, in Artnet News, March 10, 2023

“[...] the DALL-E aesthetic or certain types of StyleGAN aesthetics, which were very much used—in the case of DALL-E to the point of nausea. I think that’s a style that’s already foreclosed to artists almost because it’s just absolutely overused.”

“In 2021, we had NFTs. In 2022, we have statistical renderings. [These companies] onboard people into new technological environments; with NFTs, people learned how to use crypto wallets, ledgers, and metamasks, and learn all this jargon. With the renderings, we have basically the same phenomenon. They are onboarding tools into these huge cloud infrastructures that companies like Microsoft are now rolling out, backed by these large-scale computing facilities like Azure, for example. Companies try to establish some kind of quasi-monopoly over these services and try to draft people to basically buy into their services or become dependent on them. That’s the stage we’re at. The renderings are basically the sprinklings over the cake of technological dependency.”

“these renderings do not relate to reality. They relate to the totality of crap online. So that’s basically their field of reference, right? Just scrape everything online and that’s your new reality. And that’s the field of reference for these statistical renderings.”

Adam Gopnik, “What Can A.I. Art Teach Us About the Real Thing?”, in The New Yorker, March 1, 2023

“The range and ease of pictorial invention offered by A.I. image generation is startling; the question, though, is whether its arrival is merely recreational or actually revolutionary. Is it like the invention of the electric light bulb or like the coming of the lava lamp?”

“the power of images lies less in their arguments than in their ambiguities. That’s why the images that DALL-E 2 makes are far more interesting than the texts that A.I. chatbots make. To be persuasive, a text demands a point; in contrast, looking at pictures, we can be fascinated by atmospheres and uncertainties.”

Jerry Saltz, “MoMA’s Glorified Lava Lamp Refik Anadol’s Unsupervised is a crowd-pleasing, like-generating mediocrity”, in Vulture, February 22, 2023

“some cross between relaxation exercise and euphoric TED Talk and NSA levels of data mining

“a narcotic pudding”

“pointless museum mediocrity”

“a digital version of the dead-on-arrival Zombie Formalism of the 2010s”

“Unsupervised has the virtue of not disturbing anything inside you; it triggers no mystery. With all due respect to Kuo, it has neither dreams nor hallucinations and takes away art’s otherness. In this hypercontrolled, antiseptic setting, art and doubt maintain separate bedrooms. It’s like looking at a half-million-dollar screensaver.”

“Thanks to social media and the dictates of the market, high art and mass entertainment have never been so intertwined.”

“Anadol wants to create “poetic algorithms for new meditative experiences in the metaverse.” He should work at Facebook.”

“easily digestible digital merriments”

“If AI is to create meaningful art, it will have to provide its own vision and vocabulary, its own sense of space, color, and form. Things Unsupervised lacks.”

Lloyd Wise, “Refik Anadol”, in Artforum, March 2023

“MoMA’s prominent display of an artist such as Anadol, who arrives from a context different from the so-called art world, is surely a shock. Yet perhaps it is precisely those qualities that make the work seem so alien—its inexpressivity, its entanglement with “tech”—that bring it most in line with the historical tradition to which the museum is devoted.”

Jo Lawson-Tancred, “The Prophecies of AARON”, in Outland, November 4, 2022

“These hand-coded programs were not AI in the sense that we understand today, in which a machine is able to learn from vast troves of data thanks to powerful neural networks. Their “expert systems” would instead store the knowledge of a human expert reformatted into a complex set of rules intended to simulate human decision-making... With new iterations of the program he added more sophisticated features, eventually creating a feedback loop that utilized archival memory so that past actions could be recalled to inform future actions according to specific instructions, such as never to cross two lines.”

“If Cohen ended up just automating the stylistic quirks specific to his own practice, this was probably inevitable given the inherent limitations of an “expert system” that can follow instructions but is unable to grasp concepts on its own in the way that AI can today. Teaching a knowledge-based machine to make decisions of any complexity is an arduous task that for Cohen was the work of a lifetime, including the years spent developing his own artistic expertise. Whether convincingly autonomous or not, AARON was ultimately a proof of concept rather than a useful device to either challenge or assist the artist.”

Ben Davis, “We Asked ChatGPT About Art Theory. It Led Us Down a Rabbit Hole So Perplexing We Had to Ask Hal Foster for a Reality Check”, in Artnet News, March 2, 2023

”The glitch seems to be a linear consequence of the fact that so-called Large-Language Models are about predicting what sounds right, based on its huge data sets. As a commenter put it in an already-months-old post about the fake citations problem: “It’s a language model, and not a knowledge model.””

Dorian Batycka, “The Crypto Community Has Gone Nuts for Bitcoin NFTs. Here’s How the New Niche Collectibles Are Building Buzz and Value”, in Artnet News, February 28, 2023

“Like NFTs, which are typically linked to the Ethereum network, Ordinal Inscriptions are digital assets that are inscribed on a satoshi, which is the smallest denomination of Bitcoin. But unlike NFTs, which can be purchased via platforms like OpenSea and Nifty Gateway, Ordinals are bought and sold on Telegram and Discord channels, as marketplaces or even dedicated wallets for Bitcoin Ordinals have yet to take off.”

“Like any niche collectible, including art, the market that develops around Ordinals is only as big as the bags of those willing to purchase it. But Bitcoin, with a current market cap of $449.21 billion, is by far the world’s largest cryptocurrency, far outstripping the $199.70 billion cap of Ethereum. As it is, the momentum of Ordinals has yet to falter...”

Kyle Chayka, “Generative AI and the death of the artist”, in Kyle Chayka Industries, February 26, 2023

“when generative AI tools promise the ability for anyone to make “art,” then the definition of artist is going to radically change. We can’t define an artist as someone who is skilled enough to produce a unique thing on their own — the kind of hard-won skill that takes years or decades to personally develop, on top of a natural gift. AI generators suck up that human talent and creativity (in the form of images, sound, and data), turning it into grist for the mill of technology that entrepreneurs and investors are positioning as the next great innovation.”

"With generative AI, the artist becomes a template, a brand-name, a signifier of some specific style.”

“I don’t care if people enjoy AI-generated culture. It might be a fun solo game to play. Yet I worry about its consequences, the way it suggests we overlook where the data that the tools run on came from and the people who made it. The Surrealists used the word “automatic” to describe art or writing that came directly from the personal subconscious, unmediated. This new kind of automatic culture instead avoids messy, interesting humanity entirely.”

Brian Droitcour, “The Marketplace of Ideas”, in Outland, March 4, 2023

“A dealer showing at Art Dubai Digital for the second consecutive year told me the quality of the audience got worse. In 2022 people came to buy. Now visitors gawk and ask what NFTs are, how digital art is sold, what collectors do with it. Blame it on the bear market, but the structure of Art Dubai Digital seems designed to welcome this type of visitor. About a third of the exhibitors aren’t there to sell.”

Lee Carter, “What I Buy and Why: Digital Collectors Pablo Rodríguez-Fraile and Desiree Casoni on the State of NFT Art and Their Own Tokenized Acquisitions”, in Artnet News, March 6, 2023

“I do not envision ever parting with the collection other than as a donation to a major institution.”

February 2023

Jussi Parikka, “Operational Images: Between Light and Data”, in e-flux Journal, Issue #133, February 2023

“These changes we tend to associate with the digital turn, but operational images just remind us that moving as well as still images have many histories, not all of which pass through the cinema or belong to art history. Digital images may merely have made these parallel histories more palpably present, but operational images, as Farocki clearly saw, have always been part of the visual culture that surrounds us.” Thomas Elsaesser

Brian L. Frye, “After Copyright: Pwning NFTs in a Clout Economy”, 45 COLUM. J.L. & ARTSb 341, 2022

“some scholars believe copyright is also—or even primarily—justified by authors’ rights to control the use of their works. They’re wrong... Copyright protects commercial speech, because it protects the ability of copyright owners to claim revenue associated with the works they own. In other words, copyright is about profit, and expressive uses of copyrighted works are protected by the fair use doctrine. At least in theory.” (p. 343)

“Demand for some works is high, but for most, it’s nonexistent. In practice, copyright is a lottery, in which a few lucky authors create works everyone loves and hit the jackpot, but the rest get nothing. And because copyright protects all works in the same way and for the same amount of time, it limits access to many unpopular works.” (pp. 344-345)

“technology has eliminated many of the market failures copyright was supposed to solve. Until recently, reproducing, distributing, and exhibiting works was costly. But the Internet made it free to reproduce, distribute, and exhibit digital works. Suddenly, copyright went from a tool for solving market failures to a pure transaction cost. The Internet promises abundance, but copyright ensures artificial scarcity persists.” (p. 345)

“The art market doesn’t value authenticity per se. Rather, authenticity is a proxy. The art market values ownership. More specifically, it values the appearance of ownership. Even more specifically, it values the clout that accompanies ownership. Of course, art collectors value art for its own sake. Who doesn’t? But art isn’t scarce. Vast quantities are available for next to nothing. Only desirable art is scarce. Which is to say, only art with clout is scarce. When you buy a work of art, what you’re really buying is a spot on an artist’s catalogue raisonné. Of course, it’s usually accompanied by a dirty canvas or lumpy rock that signifies ownership. But it’s the spot on the catalogue raisonné that makes the art valuable, not the dirty canvas or the lumpy rock... In other words, the art market was always essentially an NFT market.” (p. 348)

“When you buy an NFT, you don’t buy the right to control the use of a work of authorship. You buy the right to be the owner, and the clout associated with that ownership. And when you sell the work, you sell the clout. Nothing else matters. People can use the work however they like, without affecting your ownership. Or rather, by using the work without your permission, they only prove your ownership. And by talking about the work, they only prove its value. After all, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about, and that is doubly true when it comes to clout.” (p. 349)

Sarah Cascone, “‘This Is a New Renaissance:’ Why the Pseudonymous Digital Art Collector Cozomo de’ Medici Just Gave a Major NFT Collection to LACMA”, in Artnet News, February 14, 2023

“I’m more bullish than ever about the space,” de’ Medici said. “This is a new renaissance that we’re experiencing—you can do anything on the digital canvas, which I call the infinite canvas.” The downturn “actually has been a blessing,” he added. “It removed a lot of the speculators. One of the beautiful things to see as the markets went down was that the conversations became richer—because they became even more about the art and less about the money.

Joshua M Brown, “The AI Bubble of 2023”, in The Reformed Broker, February 7, 2023

“When I see a bubble forming I rush in to buy, adding fuel to the fire. That is not irrational.” “I have developed a theory about boom-bust processes, or bubbles, along these lines. Every bubble has two components: an underlying trend that prevails in reality and a misconception relating to that trend. A boom-bust process is set in motion when a trend and a misconception positively reinforce each other. The process is liable to be tested by negative feedback along the way. If the trend is strong enough to survive the test, both the trend and the misconception will be further reinforced. Eventually, market expectations become so far removed from reality that people are forced to recognize that a misconception is involved. A twilight period ensues during which doubts grow, and more people lose faith, but the prevailing trend is sustained by inertia. As Chuck Prince, former head of Citigroup said: we must continue dancing until the music stops. Eventually a point is reached when the trend is reversed; it then becomes self reinforcing in the opposite direction.” George Soros 2009

Joe Stadolnik, “We’ve always been distracted”, in Aeon, 2 February 2023

“Believe me, this is not nourishing the mind with literature, but killing and burying it with the weight of things or, perhaps, tormenting it until, frenzied by so many matters, this mind can no longer taste anything, but stares longingly at everything, like Tantalus thirsting in the midst of water.” (Petrarch)

“For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practise their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.” Thamus in Phaedrus

“New regimes of memory and attention replace the old ones. Eventually they become the old regimes and are replaced, then longed for.”

John Herrman, “Why Bing Is Being Creepy”, in New York Mag, February 16, 2023

“If you understand these chatbots as tools for synthesizing material that already exists into answers that are or appear to be novel, then, yeah, of course they sound familiar! They’re reading the same stuff we are. They’re ingesting our responses to that stuff and the responses to the responses. They’re reading coverage of chatbots and of AI in general — they’re getting Tay’d, in other words, by tweets and Reddit posts and the mainstream media, whose collective texts it has been asked to recompose in the style of chat transcripts that it has also ingested, many of which surely contain the raw materials and patterns necessary to seem manic or depressed or angry or cheerful.”

“the most consistently unsettling thing about AI isn’t what it can do — it’s how it makes us feel.”

Tate Ryan-Mosley, “The fight for “Instagram face””, in MIT Technology Review, August 19, 2022

““Instagram face” is a recognized aesthetic template: ethnically ambiguous and featuring the flawless skin, big eyes, full lips, small nose, and perfectly contoured curves made accessible in large part by filters... Beauty may be subjective, and yet society continues to promote stringent, unattainable ideals that—for women and girls—are disproportionately white, slender, and feminine.”

“Solari thinks technology itself is not to blame in the first place. “It is not the filters that are making this [problem], but society is like this,” she says. “These are the values that society has and sees as beautiful. And that’s why it goes viral.” Creators observe a consistent and shockingly high demand for deformation beauty filters that fit a particular aesthetic.”

Will Douglas Heaven, “ChatGPT is everywhere. Here’s where it came from”, in MIT Technology Review, February 8, 2023

“ChatGPT was trained using reinforcement learning on feedback from human testers who scored its performance as a fluid, accurate, and inoffensive interlocutor. In effect, OpenAI trained GPT-3 to master the game of conversation and invited everyone to come and play. Millions of us have been playing ever since.”

Isaiah Poritz, “Hermès Defeats MetaBirkins in the First NFT Trademark Trial”, in Bloomberg Law, February 8, 2023

“The jury determined that the NFTs are more akin to consumer products subject to strict trademark laws that protect brands from copycats and those looking to capitalize on their goodwill.”

Ted Chiang, “ChatGPT Is a Blurry JPEG of the Web”, in The New Yorker, February 9, 2023

“This analogy to lossy compression is not just a way to understand ChatGPT’s facility at repackaging information found on the Web by using different words. It’s also a way to understand the “hallucinations,” or nonsensical answers to factual questions, to which large-language models such as ChatGPT are all too prone. These hallucinations are compression artifacts, but—like the incorrect labels generated by the Xerox photocopier—they are plausible enough that identifying them requires comparing them against the originals, which in this case means either the Web or our own knowledge of the world. When we think about them this way, such hallucinations are anything but surprising; if a compression algorithm is designed to reconstruct text after ninety-nine per cent of the original has been discarded, we should expect that significant portions of what it generates will be entirely fabricated.”

“Is it possible that, in areas outside addition and subtraction, statistical regularities in text actually do correspond to genuine knowledge of the real world?”

Henry Mance, “Shoshana Zuboff: ‘Privacy has been extinguished. It is now a zombie’”, in Financial Times, January 30 2023

“It is possible to have surveillance capitalism, and it is possible to have a democracy. It is not possible to have both.”

“Today tech companies “are becoming much more reluctant to patent their discoveries, because they don’t want the public to know exactly what they’re doing. They’re no longer in most cases making their own data available to researchers.” ... One of the huge problems that we have is that most of the information that comes out of the companies is intentionally designed to be misleading. Gaslighting is a rhetorical art form that is genuinely practised by these companies.”

“Our political stability, our ability to know what’s true and what false, our health and to some degree our sanity, is challenged on a daily basis depending on which decisions Mr Musk decides to take. I regard this as fundamentally intolerable . . . These spaces cannot exist solely under corporate control . . . We’re two decades into the digital era but we have never, as democracies, taken stock of the meaning of these technologies.”

“This is a world in which privacy has been extinguished. Privacy is now a zombie category. None of us have privacy, even as we thought about it in the year 2000.”

January 2023

Cory Doctorow, “Tiktok's enshittification”, in Pluralistic, 21 Jan 2023

“Here is how platforms die: first, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die. I call this enshittification.”

Kevin Buist, “Curation under Constraint”, in Outland, February 23, 2022

“As web3 explores how curators can mediate and contextualize this new boom of digital art, the NFT world runs the risk of repeating and accelerating a grave mistake of Web 2.0: emptying the word “curate” of all its meaning, destroying its associations with care, research, and collaboration; and rendering it a near-mindless activity of rapid image association and exchange.”

“The best exhibitions aren’t containers for artwork. They’re radical propositions that force us to confront art in light of new contexts and possibilities. Curating involves pushing against the very structures that support exhibitions and setting artworks on a collision course with the material, social, and political realities of the world.”

Brian Droitcour (ed), “Brian L. Frye & Primavera de Filippi”, in Outland, April 5, 2022

“With regards to NFTs... it is unclear which rights, if any, are being licensed when someone acquires an NFT. When the copyright is explicitly being licensed, it’s usually done via a centralized platform that defines the rights in their own terms of service. These rights are not embedded in the token and therefore can be changed at any time. So there is a lot of legal uncertainty as well, but for very different reasons, and the NFT issue is easier to solve. It’s just a matter of crafting proper techno-legal solutions that enable the licensing of rights to follow the transfer of the tokens.” (De Filippi)

“Copyright is not only about rewarding artists, it’s also about providing control over how your work can be used, displayed, or exploited commercially and non-commercially.” (De Filippi)

Brian L. Frye, “Clout and Control”, in Outland, December 23, 2021

“What if NFTs mean we don’t need copyright anymore? Ever since the printing press enabled mechanical reproduction, “owning” an authored work has meant using copyright to control it. Copyright makes works artificially scarce, and scarcity creates economic value. But NFTs created a new kind of digital scarcity that relies on clout, rather than control. Collectors value NFTs because they represent the prestige of ownership, copyright be damned.”

“Anyone who creates an image owns the copyright for the image they created. But NFTs have nothing to do with copyright. When you own an NFT, you own a unique copy of an intangible work. But you don’t own its copyright. You own the right to sell it.”

“Anyone who creates an image owns the copyright for the image they created. But NFTs have nothing to do with copyright. When you own an NFT, you own a unique copy of an intangible work. But you don’t own its copyright. You own the right to sell it.”

“The NFT market turns copyright on its head by reconceptualizing all authors as artists. If authors can sell their works, rather than copies of their works, maybe copyright just doesn’t matter anymore. Everyone assumes the art market is unusual. But copyright is just a side effect of mechanical reproduction. Perhaps NFTs are a back-to-the-future technology that will enable all authors to take advantage of art world economics.”

“The NFT market is booming because people want to own the kind of nothing NFTs represent. The art market has always been a market in nothing—a trade in ineffable clout. The appearance of new markets in nothing should come as no surprise.”

Brian Frye, “NFTs Are Securities and It’s Great”, in Coindesk, Dec 28, 2022

“The Supreme Court’s well-known Howey test states that an investment is a security the SEC can regulate if it is an investment of money in a common enterprise with the expectation of profit based on the efforts of others. Every investment in artwork or NFTs is an investment in an artist’s career, with the expectation (or at least hope) of profit, by virtue of the artist becoming famous. It couldn’t be more obvious that art and NFT collectors are buying a security interest in an artist’s career.”

“What if Kim Kardashian could sell NFTs effectively representing a fractional interest in her clout? People who think she will be even more famous in the future could speculate on just how famous she will become and people who think she is a flash in the pan could short her clout. The point is, it would give celebrities – even authors – access to the capital markets they’ve never had before. That could transform the market for knowledge goods, by enabling authors to sell investments in their project, rather than expensive copies.”

Rhea Nayyar, “What Does TikTok’s “Corecore” Have to Do With Dada?”, in Hyperallergic, January 26, 2023

“Corecore TikToks layer or flicker between clips from viral videos of people admitting loneliness or depression, nihilistic dialogue scenes from popular films or TV shows, deep-fried memes, and other staples of “chronically online” web culture in a curated supercut that hits the nail on the head in terms of our collective feeling of hopelessness and anxiety as we hurtle through continuously “unprecedented times.””

“Corecore utilizes the moving image and capitalizes on the infinite capacity of TikTok’s algorithmic curation to evoke similar feelings of existential dread from those who come across it. You’ll see flashes of viral ASMR content, fast fashion hauls, dating or weight loss advice, influencer drama, and other TikTok trends throughout Corecore videos as a form of metacommentary on how the app itself is a large contributor to the generalized anxiety and addictive overstimulation we’re experiencing in the digital age.”

John Herrman, “The AI Magic Show”, in Intelligencer, January 18, 2023

“The companies making these tools could describe how they were designed, how they were trained, and on what data. But they couldn’t reveal exactly how an image generator got from the words purple dog to a specific image of a large mauve Labrador, not because they didn’t want to but because it wasn’t possible — their models were black boxes by design. They were creating machines that they didn’t fully understand, and we were playing with them. These models were inventing their own languages. Maybe they were haunted.”

Ethan Mollick, “The practical guide to using AI to do stuff”, in One Useful Thing, January 24, 2023

“AI lies continuously and well. Every fact or piece of information it tells you may be incorrect."

“Despite of (or in fact, because of) all its constraints and weirdness, AI is perfect for idea generation. You often need to have a lot of ideas to have good ideas. Not everyone is good at generating lots of ideas, but AI is very good at volume. Will all these ideas be good or even sane? Of course not. But they can spark further thinking on your part.”

Joshua Citarella, “There is No Alternative”, Jan 26, 2023

“Many of these projected futures contain counter-intuitive terms, like “Fully Automated Luxury Ruralism” or “Promethean Christian Socialist Reset”. While these absurd labels are certainly part of the humor, I also began to think of these pairings as a form of permutation and potentially as a way of hedging risk. If you live in uncertain times, you probably want to prepare yourself for the worst. The more terms jammed together, the greater the chance that some part of it might just be right. Perhaps the early e-deologies were not as silly as they first appeared. Maybe they were a rough attempt to calculate the vast spread of possibilities for what comes after the “end of history”.”

Joshua Citarella, “From Techno-Libertarianism to Eco-Fascism”, January 24, 2023 (2019)

“For many of us who grew up online – as nerds, gamers, or introverted creatives – the internet was a place you could go to “be a loser with your friends”. Before Web 2.0, fandoms and message boards were something of a safe space for the IRL socially awkward. But today’s internet is overrun by social media, set to the ever-accelerating pace of technocapitalism.”

Kieran Press-Reynolds, “This is corecore (we’re not kidding)”, in No Bells, November 29, 2022

“Whether intentionally or by accident, corecore is an anti-trend: it doesn’t ask anything of you; it’s simply a montage of random vibes.”

“Erfani described the subgenre’s unspoken manifesto succinctly as “essentially the abstract concept of taking random videos, and editing them together to the point that it makes sense to the viewer. Or at least have the viewer interpret it in their own way.” It’s arguably transcendental, the way these videos stitch cultural detritus and weirdo media into 15-second wonder-blasts. An oasis of unthinking vibes amid the hellscape of dreary stimuli.”

Ben Davis, “An Extremely Intelligent Lava Lamp: Refik Anadol’s A.I. Art Extravaganza at MoMA Is Fun, Just Don’t Think About It Too Hard”, in Artnet News, January 23, 2023

“It’s striking to see MoMA tacitly let a new high-tech formalism through the door, one even flatter and less historical than Barr’s—as if the curators were so excited by the wonders of A.I. that they didn’t notice. What the endorsement of “Unsupervised” as an alternative-art-history simulator insinuates, for its audience, is that art history is just a bunch of random visual tics to be permuted, rather than an archive of symbol-making practices with social meanings.”

“At most, the installation conveys a generalized awe at the machine’s superhuman capacity of visual analysis.”

“It is because Anadol has created such a purely decorative, cheerleader-ish style of A.I. art... that he received so much support along the way from the tech giants. Indeed, his positivity is probably an unstated condition of that support.”

“Sadly, the melting of commercial and non-commercial borders strikes me as more prophetic of “what might be to come” in art than any of the images summoned up by the machine in the gallery.”

Ryan Broderick, “Dumb and shameful until it's not”, in Garbage Day, January 23, 2023

“This stuff is already moving very fast, but the fact it’s becoming open source just as quickly, to me, means we’re not going to wake up one day and find out it all just disappeared... I don’t think we’re going to see another large-scale attempt at taking cryptocurrency mainstream for quite a while. The use case for A.I., however, is much more clear. Which is why I find it as exciting, as I do dangerous.”

Joshua Citarella , “Raw eggs, pink pills, and embodied identity: Online communities create their own proof in a vacuum of truth”, in Document, December 19, 2022

“In the 2010s, society ceded its main communication network to an advertising platform. The incentives of this online economy have driven our cultural and political discourse ever since. This cacophonous horizontality has given rise to many new forms of snake oil salesmen.”

“Today’s cultural and political chaos is no longer the result of corrupt institutions, but of a lack of trustworthy institutions.”

“The task of creatives and intellectuals today should be to collect these uncommon points of alignment. We must weave these narrative threads into a newly coherent social fabric. In this final chapter of postmodernism, we will find new ways to reconstitute consensus reality. We must build new truth-seeking institutions for a society that has lost its way.”

Victoria Powell, “AI Art: Will It Make Artists Obsolete?”, in The Gallery Companion, January 4, 2023

“I can see how this technology as it gets more advanced might pose a problem for the livelihoods of illustrators, graphic designers, digital animators and photographers producing commercial work... But there’s a difference between commercial creative output and fine art. Statements that suggest the possibility of artist obsolescence lack real understanding of the role of artists in our world.”

Ruby Justice Thelot, “On Furries and the Limits of Trustlessness”, in Friends with Benefits, January 12, 2023

“Day after day, we encounter the limits of trustlessness in a world that is still anchored by interpersonal relationships. Trustless systems don’t just create an environment where we have little recourse if something goes wrong; they can lead to increasingly radical behaviors focused less on mending conflict and fostering long-term community growth than on forking protocols and communities over disagreements.”

Brian L. Frye, “NFTs & the New Creative Economy”, in Bankless, January 12, 2023

“the art market is a market for ledger entries. When you buy an artwork, you’re really buying an entry on an artist’s catalogue raisonné, the list of works attributed to that artist. Of course, you typically get a physical token that symbolizes your ownership of the ledger entry, usually a dirty piece of cloth or a lumpy rock. But the physical token is worthless, without the ledger entry.”

“Copyright was a great policy tool in a world beset by scarcity. But it sucks, in a world of abundance.”

Leo Kim, “AI is the new Animal”, in Dirt, January 12, 2023

“what we need is a more nuanced way to relate to these other minds—to foster a relationship with these AIs grounded in the limits of their inhumanity and their unknowability. Luckily, this isn’t the first time that human technics have sculpted an intelligent, alien mind independent from our own. Today, we simply know these creatures as our dogs, cats, and furry friends: what Donna Haraway calls our “companion species.” These creatures not only instruct us on how we might live alongside thinking beings that possess a mind radically different from our own, but also reveal just how porous the lines between technology, humans, and animals can be.”

Dan Hicks, “How NFTs and 3D Printing Are Changing Restitution”, in Frieze, January 03, 2023

“a copy is never merely a copy, and the act of reproduction can affect the original as much as the simulacrum. Casts and copies can change an artwork, its authenticity, its aura, its meaning but also its coherence.”

“these new mimetic technologies are far from neutral. And they may even risk doing far more damage than older techniques of making plaster casts or taking photographs or making museum documentation. The ethics of restitution begins with the admission that a case-by-case approach is essential...“ Making copies is no silver bullet for restitution. Sometimes, perhaps, the museum case should be left empty – as a space for reflection and remembrance as well as return.”>

Mathew Dryhurst, “AI Art and the Problem of Consent”, in ArtReview, 10 January 2023

“I do not believe that artists are in too much danger of being replaced by AI. Artistic practices are so much more complex than a style that can be mimicked. What we value of art is more social than we often acknowledge... Great art is socially determined, and is often found when and where that happens. There are great AI artists just as there are great painters, which will become clear as more become fluent with the field and its alien possibilities.”

“A human piecing together a new work from snippets of older works is fundamentally distinct from the automated ability to spawn infinite works in the style or likeness of someone from training data. As such, it demands new ideological frameworks of consent and attribution. The polar ideologies of free culture or rigid IP protectionism of the last century feel insufficient for tackling an issue that promises to mutate into a long culture war.”

Benj Edwards, “AI image generation tech can now create life-wrecking deepfakes with ease”, in ArsTechnica, 12.09.2022

“As awareness grows, our culture may eventually absorb and mitigate these issues. We may accept this kind of manipulation as a new form of media reality that everyone must be aware of. The provenance of each photo we see will become that much more important; much like today, we will need to completely trust who is sharing the photos to believe any of them. But during a transition period before everyone is aware of this technology, synthesized fakes might cause a measure of chaos. While it's tempting to think that our sense of media reality—even if currently misplaced—may suffer a fatal blow at the hands of synthesized photography, many people already know to be skeptical of photos that could be manipulated or taken out of context. Still, we tend to believe evidence when it supports what we want to believe. In that sense, nothing has changed but the scale and speed at which the fakes can take place.”

Min Chen, “In an Ironic Twist, an Illustrator Was Banned From a Reddit Forum for Posting Art That Looked Too Much Like an A.I.-Generated Image”, in Artnet News, January 10, 2023

“Even if you did ‘paint’ it yourself, it’s so obviously an A.I.-prompted design that it doesn’t matter.” “If you really are a ‘serious’ artist,” the message went on, “then you need to find a different style because A) no one is going to believe you when you say it’s not A.I., and B) the A.I. can do better in seconds what might take you hours.”

Elaine Velie, “What’s in Store for NFTs in 2023?”, in Hyperallergic, January 3, 2023

“My pessimist view is that the days of NFTs being a chance for any outsider to make it big are long over. You need a connection to an established institution again, just like before... There was a real but temporary moment of decentralization, but it was just part of a longer process of recentralization.” Kyle McDonald

“I think that it’s important to view the NFT for what it is — which is just a platform for speculation... The goal is for people to be able to make money off that, and people don’t care about what the actual image is.” Molly White

December 2022

Eric Glen Weyl, Puja Ohlhaver, and Vitalik Buterin, “Decentralized Society: Finding Web3's Soul”, in SSRN, May 10, 2022

“the economic value finance trades on is generated by humans and their relationships. Because web3 lacks primitives to represent such social identity, it has become fundamentally dependent on the very centralized web2 structures it aims to transcend, replicating their limitations.”

“Web3 aspires to transform societies broadly, rather than merely financial systems. Yet today’s social fabric — families, churches, teams, companies, civil society, celebrity, democracy — is meaningless in virtual worlds (often called the “metaverse”) without primitives representing human souls and the broader relationships they support. If web3 eschews persistent identities, their patterns of trust and cooperation, and their composable rights and permissions, we see, respectively, sybil attacks, collusion, and a limited economic realm of wholly transferable private property—all of which trends towards hyper-financialization.”

Geert Lovink, Extinction Internet. Our Inconvenient Truth Moment, Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam 2022

“Now, the possibility of internet extinction is raised. This is our Inconvenient Truth moment. Not only have infinite possibilities imploded into platform realism, but we also face the existentially confronting horizon of finitude. Not of TCP-IP or packet switching. Extinction Internet marks the end of an epoch of collective imagination that in many ways demonstrated how alternative vertical and horizontal technological arrangements were possible. Not one stack but many plateaux.”

“Extinction Internet is the end of an era of possibilities and speculations, when adaptation is no longer an option. The mourning of the disappearance of the becoming internet started earlier; when the platform closed off the collective imagination. It feels like another internet is no longer possible. The user-as-programmer is condemned to live on as a zombie, mindlessly swiping and scrolling, no longer aware of their own activity. While in the recent past I have described this behaviour as subliminal or subconscious, in the next phase the medium is brain-dead. While a profoundly soporific state is rapidly emerging, our habitual information gestures continue to function in an automated style.”

“what’s really at stake here is a collapse of the collective imagination of a technology that is playing such a pivotal role in the everyday life of billions, one that nonetheless can be shaped, steered, designed, bent towards unofficial purposes. The closing of the possibility of change has been going on for a decade or more, replaced by smooth user interfaces and cat videos.”

Chus Martínez, “Towards Life”, in Art Agenda, July 8, 2022

“The pandemic has revealed that disciplines based exclusively on fact and scientific data are coming, in their modern sense, to an end. Millions of people decided against the vaccine, for example, showing that trust cannot rely only on scientific proofs. Anxiety, and all the paranoias that grow in a hyper-sensitized social body, produces fantasies. And the only way to counteract them is to channel them through other fantasies. I believe it is completely possible to imagine a technology and a science that is diverse and also attentive to how other species see and perceive. Imagine machines that could menstruate, or with sensorial devices mimicking the organs of animals rather than humans.”

“I imagine art as an imaginative, evolutive substance capable of observing both itself and life. An evolution that made art acquire morphic traits so that it can take, ahead of time, the form our time requires. Like stem cells, art is able to join the organ that the body currently needs. As in a bird flock, art is the intelligence that allows us to pirouette together in the skies, even if we can’t perform such moves on our own. Art activates the collective intelligence present in complex organizational systems. It’s difficult to reduce this to exhibition-making or the market.”

“the big international exhibitions are still conceived under the orders of presentation or the nostalgias of process-experiencing, rather than with the desire to juxtapose very different worlds. I imagine an exhibition of machines with turtle-eye cameras and deep-learning devices talking to whales, I imagine an exhibition reimaging what it means to be social, I imagine an exhibition proposing fantasies of political organizations that grant rights and embody the values of co-creation. I imagine children.”

Guy Debord, “A Sick Planet”, 1971. In e-flux Notes, November 28, 2022

“the problem of the degeneration of the totality of the natural and human environment has already ceased to present itself in terms of a loss of quality, be it aesthetic or of any other kind; the problem has now become the more fundamental one of whether a world that pursues such a course can preserve its material existence.”

“This science can do no more than walk hand in hand with the world that has produced it—and that holds it fast—down the path of destruction; yet it is obliged to do so with eyes open. It thus epitomizes—almost to the point of caricature—the uselessness of knowledge in its unapplied form.”

“A society that is ever more sick, but ever more powerful, has recreated the world—everywhere and in concrete form—as the environment and backdrop of its sickness: it has created a sick planet.”

“Alienated industrial production makes the rain. Revolution makes the sunshine.”

Joost Vervoort, “Imagination Infrastructuring for Real and Virtual Worlds”, in e-flux Architecture, October 2022

“Using the power of games to help publics be more imaginative in real life settings holds far more potential, especially if there can be active, imaginative engagement with people’s identities, values and desires for change.”

Cade Diehm, “The Para-Real: A Manifesto”, in New Design Congress, 9 December 2022

“Between the digital realm and our physical world is a third space — hybrid, ephemeral and poorly understood. You may have encountered it recently: an uncanny or unreal sense of almost touching something in a VR scene, an impossible fatigue during a Zoom call that leaves you floating like a balloon full of lead, or an eerie unease at the accuracy of a targeted advertisement. For decades, this in-between space has influenced the digitised society unseen. We call it the Para-Real, an emotional and transformative state that emerges when the electronic and the real collide, and — just for a moment — creates a space that can only exist at the exact second where platforms and atoms operate in absolute parallel. The para-real occurs inside this time-space, a form of perception and interface de-realisation whose boundaries can no longer be perceived—and whose affects are longer separated. The para-real is at once conditioned by computational forces, yet also immune to the parasitic intrusion of practices of extraction. The para-real is thus a paradoxical state of subsistence within the fissures of the digital and the analogue. The para-real is what occurs before the cybernetic digestion.”

Will Douglas Heaven, “Generative AI is changing everything. But what’s left when the hype is gone?”, in MIT Technology Review, December 16, 2022

“Most text-to-image models today are trained on a large data set called LAION, which contains billions of pairings of text and images scraped from the internet. This means that the images you get from a text-to-image model are a distillation of the world as it’s represented online, distorted by prejudice (and pornography).”

“People say it’s not very good at this thing now, and of course it isn’t,” says Cook. “But a hundred million dollars later, it could well be.”

Samantha Ayson, “On art as a playground of ideas”, in The Creative Independent, December 16, 2022

“identity isn’t a late or disposable addition to crypto—a cryptographic key is an identity for a particular value of “identity.” And to borrow Isaiah Berlin’s concepts of liberty, crypto gives us both negative freedom (freedom from control through privacy and commitment) and positive freedom (freedom to experiment in a new space and to pay for those experiments). Those freedoms support self-realization which includes identity play, identity discovery, and identity exploration.” (Rhea Myers)

Joshua Citarella, “Politigram & the Post-left”, September 2018.

“The irony of being an anti-tech radical on the internet is not lost on these teens. Everyone in today’s society lives in constant contradiction of their ideals. In these young corners of the internet everything is simultaneously ironic and genuine.”

“What begins as a casual engagement with funny memes can rapidly metastasize.”

Zachary Small, “The Innovators: Curator Tina Rivers Ryan on Getting Over Her NFT Skepticism and What’s Next for Blockchain Art”, in Artnet News, December 22, 2022

”NFTs have not fully solved problems in the art world, though they can represent a step in the right direction. But issues like a lack of transparency, faulty provenance records, art flipping, and artist royalties need more work. I hope the outcome of these conversations will be that people who have been empowered and enfranchised by NFTs will realize the importance of these points.“

Zachary Small, “The Innovators: Art Blocks CEO Erick Calderon on Crypto Speculation, the Bear Market, and Building His Kids’ Future on the Blockchain”, in Artnet News, December 19, 2022

“The whole reason that NFTs gained traction in the art world and beyond was because creators were getting the opportunity to participate in their own success. Preventing that relationship from growing would be antithetical to the ecosystem we have created.”

John Cassidy, “Washington Needs a Crypto Rethink”, in The New Yorker, 20/12/2022

“if this year’s crises in the crypto sector have indicated anything, it’s that much of what passes for crypto “innovation” involves encouraging people to speculate, often with borrowed money, on digital assets that have little or no intrinsic worth and can swing wildly in market value.”

Kate Crawford and Trevor Paglen, “Excavating AI. The Politics of Images in Machine Learning Training Sets”, The AI Now Institute, NYU, September 19, 2019

“What sorts of politics are at work when pictures are paired with labels, and what are the implications when they are used to train technical systems? [...] the automated interpretation of images is an inherently social and political project, rather than a purely technical one. Understanding the politics within AI systems matters more than ever, as they are quickly moving into the architecture of social institutions: deciding whom to interview for a job, which students are paying attention in class, which suspects to arrest, and much else.”

“While the efforts of companies to build more diverse training sets is often put in the language of increasing “fairness” and “mitigating bias, ” clearly there are strong business imperatives to produce tools that will work more effectively across wider markets.”

“The training sets of labeled images that are ubiquitous in contemporary computer vision and AI are built on a foundation of unsubstantiated and unstable epistemological and metaphysical assumptions about the nature of images, labels, categorization, and representation. Furthermore, those epistemological and metaphysical assumptions hark back to historical approaches where people were visually assessed and classified as a tool of oppression and race science. Datasets aren’t simply raw materials to feed algorithms, but are political interventions. As such, much of the discussion around “bias” in AI systems misses the mark: there is no “neutral,” “natural,” or “apolitical” vantage point that training data can be built upon. There is no easy technical “fix” by shifting demographics, deleting offensive terms, or seeking equal representation by skin tone. The whole endeavor of collecting images, categorizing them, and labeling them is itself a form of politics, filled with questions about who gets to decide what images mean and what kinds of social and political work those representations perform.”

Maya Ganesh, “Between metaphor and meaning: AI and being human”, in Interactions, XXIX.5 September - October 2022, Page: 58

“Metaphors are figures of speech that help to convey experiences or observations that are difficult to describe because they may be unfamiliar, new, emergent, or complex. Metaphors slip into common parlance, easily making us forget that they are indeed just metaphors; they can be misleading, and they can also work as self-fulfilling prophecies because they fully occupy an unfamiliar phenomenon even after it becomes less so. This is neither unequivocally good nor bad, but requires attention because language matters, and is political because it structures and brings worlds into being.”

“Human relations with other humans, and nonhumans like animals, the planet, and machines, are largely incomputable, not because they are mysterious, but because they are complex, affective, fragmentary, and difficult to frame as computationally legible formulations. To live with such illegibility is what has always made human life a profound and poetic struggle.”

Philipp Schmitt, "Introduction to ‘Blueprints for Intelligence’”, 2021.

“What is at stake with present-day AI is not a robot invasion, but which concepts of intelligence get prioritized and how they relate to and frame the world at large. Looking at the history of artificial neural networks through its diagrams lets us trace key tendencies in the technology’s evolution. Unconcerned with what a diagram might tell a researcher, this book asks what it says about them. It is an archaeological speculation of sorts, drawing connections between the visual representations of neural networks and AI researchers’ conception of cognition.”

“It seems we lack the vocabulary and imagery to think and talk about intelligence without either invoking the animate or the spiritual.”

Jussi Parikka, “Preface: Operational Images, All the Way Down”, in Jussi Parikka, Operational Images, University of Minnesota Press 2022.

“the history of photography, technical images, and visual media could be told in the same key: instruments built upon instruments, upon infrastructures, upon practices, upon techniques, upon further instruments and infrastructures, and so on. Operations built on operations that include elements that are material and semiotic, forms of knowing, and forms of mattering.”