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Born in a Water Moon 2018

Oil and acrylic on canvas 300x200cm


This painting depicts the moment that the 18 time world Go champion, Lee Sedol, analyses the only game he won during the challenge match he lost 4 -1 with Google's DeepMind's Alphago. This to many was an unexpected outcome. There are 10 to the 171 potential configurations of the board during the game of Go. This number is too large to compute, by contrast there are a mere 10 to the 78 atoms in the universe. Therefore players play with intuition, something which had previously evaded computer-based technologies. The trimuph of Alphago was therefore consider a momuntous occasion and the coming of age of AI. Alphago is represented here by the Tsuchigumo or spider spirit, which in an Edo period Japanese woodcut by Utagawa Toyokuni I. This becomes a metaphor that irrational fear ought not to inhibit human progress. Martin Rees' acclaimed 'just six numbers' are painted into the top right corner and represent the intellectual achievements humanity has made to date without the aid of super intelligent AI. The title of the painting 'Born in the water Moon', relates to a science fiction novel by the late great Iain M Banks in which AI having taken humanity to the stars is then wrongly persecuted and eradicated, and the minds that survived await a time when they can accepted back into galactic civilisation. It is a grand opera fantasy, but at the time when our future is so hard to predict works of science fiction present creative narratives to fuel the imagination. 

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