CPNAS - Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences
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By Smriti Keshari

September 15, 2022 - December 29, 2023

NAS Building, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., East Gallery

Free. Photo ID required. Masks are optional.

Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays; closed weekends and holidays. No reservation required.

Smriti Keshari intends to provide a visual and emotional understanding of the age of artificial intelligence (AI) in this installation. The sculpture enshrines the Python code AlphaGo, marking the first moment when some experts believe artificial intelligence surpassed human potential by displaying creativity.

For millennia, spoken and written language has served as the ever-present vehicle for ideas that drive human progress. But today, due to mammoth amounts of data and computing power, an invisible and intangible AI is beginning to shape our species. And unlike any other language, modern code operates in the background without a body or form, wielding both a liberating and controlling power over the future of humanity.

According to the artist, the artwork “juxtaposes our collective desire for forward progress against our fear of AI’s capability to shape a society beyond our control. To live in harmony or chaos in the age of AI is an illusion if we don't look at the power behind these forces. Behind the code is an entire system that it runs on, composed of planetary resources, human labor, and data that have social implications and planetary effects."

Smriti Keshari is an Indian-American artist and film director who works in a range of media, from films, live shows to art installations. She creates bold, visceral and thought-provoking works. Keshari is known for her acclaimed multi-media installation, the bomb, which was heralded as “a stunning avant-garde approach to a plea for nuclear disarmament.” She is an artist-in-residence with the National Theatre in London, and Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and Pioneer Works in New York City. Her work has been supported by the MacArthur Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Ford Foundation, and more. She has spoken about art and social change at the United Nations, BBC, SXSW, Bloomberg Philanthropy, and TED. She was a TED Prize finalist and 2016 Foreign Policy's Global Creative Thinker. Most recently, Keshari’s DIS|INTEGRATION premiered at BAM.

Altar (2019) was commissioned by Tribeca Institute, with support from MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, National Theatre and Pioneer Works, and special thanks to Hazel Gibson, Toby Coffey, Gabriel Florenz Kate Crawford, and Eric Sears.

This exhibition is organized by Cultural Programs of the NAS in collaboration with The Science & Entertainment Exchange, a program of the NAS.

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