February 22, 2020October 25, 2020

Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI

In 1970 Japanese engineer Masahiro Mori introduced the concept of the “uncanny valley” as a terrain of existential uncertainty humans experience when confronted with autonomous machines that mimic their physical and mental properties. An enduring metaphor, the uncanny valley and its edges have captured the popular imagination ever since. In today’s AI-driven environment, where subjectivities and societies are increasingly organized and shaped by algorithms that track, collect, and evaluate our data, the question of what it means to be and remain human has shifted: no longer the sole purview of recognizable forms of corporeal or intellectual replication, it now must wrestle with the invisible mechanisms of behavioral engineering and automation. Uncanny Valley is the first major West Coast museum exhibition to unpack the tropes and modalities of AI through a lens of artistic practice.

Image: Stephanie Dinkins, "Conversations with Bina48," 2014–present. Video still. Courtesy of the artist