The Edgard Project: Towards a Discussion of Ethical Tech in Art and Design

The Edgard Project: Towards a Discussion of Ethical Tech in Art and Design

Fernando Luiz Fogliano (Senac University Center, Brazil), André Gomes de Souza (Senac University Center, Brazil), Guilherme Henrique Fidélio de Freitas (Senac University Center, Brazil), Rachel Lerner Sarra (Senac University Center, Brazil) and Juliana Pereira Machado (Senac University Center, Brazil)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2112-0.ch013
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As Artificial Intelligence technologies advance, their use becomes increasingly widespread, and what was once a fantasy of being able to communicate with a virtual being is now part of our everyday lives. New issues arise with every new technology, and discussions are needed to avoid significant problems. By looking at what is happening now and at the impact that AI has and will continue to have, one needs to remember history and its contradictions with a critical mind to have a more ethical approach to technology innovations. This chapter focuses on the Edgard Project, an intersection between Contemporary Art and Conversational Interface Design. Consisting of a chatbot named Edgard, the project emerges as an artistic approach to encourage critical thinking about the technology that gives him “life” and highlights the contradictions of AI through its ironic discourse and outdated interface.
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Over time, technologies that represent changes in the paradigms of the world’s scenario come and go, with the Internet remaining one of the most recent examples. With every new thing that comes by, new issues arise demanding the need for discussions that can back up the delicate nature of pointed issues. By ignoring the problems that technologies might face new problems arise and could potentially induce controversies similar to the Google Books case, in which an unethical approach and a pursuit for breaches in the law led to conflicts with copyright regulations. As these technologies get more complex over time, interest in them increases through Art and Design, raising ethical challenges such as unemployment, loss of privacy, identity, and control over personal life (Leal, 1995).

The impact of Artificial Intelligence is one of the contemporary issues that can be compared to dilemmas1 brought by preceding industrial revolutions. At the same time that we have scientific advancements providing us with improved life expectancy and quality, we have the degradation of the environment, the wealth concentration by an elite minority and the polarization of opinions amid the circulation of false information showing itself capable of interfering in democratic processes around the world. By looking at what is happening now and at the impact that AI has and will continue to have, we need to look at history and its contradictions with a critical mind to have an ethical approach in order to understand better and foresee the consequences of technology innovations.

However, before we can establish an adequate basis for addressing such a complicated matter, it is essential to ensure that people will not jump in with opinions and assumptions based on common prejudicious perceptions. This is what the tech industry narrative is going for, focusing only on the benefits and forgoing all the necessary conversation, until it is too late to do anything about it. “The Oxford research suggests that the strategy is succeeding, and that mainstream journalism is unwittingly aiding and abetting it” (Naughton, 2019, n.p.).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Design: To devise or create a plan based on information and data and act according to it.

Conversational Design: Analyzing the behavior of how humans interact with one another so we can create principles for systems to properly communicate with humans.

HCD: Human Centered Design means to plan and create around human needs and characteristics.

Model: A series of abstract and simplified representations of the world translated into rules used in Artificial Intelligence.

Machine Learning: A computer process utilized to improve itself using new data inputted in an analytical model.

ChatBot: Software designed to simulate conversation with human users.

Interface: A point of interaction between the user and an object. Also used as a system that manages and processes signs, that is, it translates signs to different levels of abstraction.

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