Born in 1984 in Xi’an, China, aaajiao is the virtual persona of Xu Wenkai. His work is often a pointed reflection on the ever-expanding role media plays in our lives. A particular focus in his work lies with an exploration of the internet, how data is processed, the blogosphere and China’s Great Fire Wall.
‘A.I. Goooooooooogle infiltration’, consisting of ten screens placed across the almost 14-meter long wall facing out towards Ernst-Reuter-Platz, explores, utilizes and critiques Google’s AVA program.
AVA or Atomic Visual Actions is part of the Perception Team at Google AI. As is clearly stated on their website, their long-term technology mission is to enable machines to achieve human-level intelligence in sensory perception, at super-human scales. In particular, they are excited about imbuing computers with “social visual intelligence” or the ability to perceive what humans are doing, what might they do next and what they are trying to achieve.
Following the initial interest and hype of the 1980s, the interest in AI died down after inflated expectations were not met. After this so-called ‘AI winter’, interest has reawakened, and already a point has been reached where artificial intelligence is informing many of the decisions we make, and it is continuing its infiltration into our daily lives. For AI to learn, large already processed data sets are needed. AVA receives its raw datasets from a freely accessible, enormous, continuously updated and diverse databank; YouTube. Ultimately the ground level for AI is human. ‘Data workshops’ have popped up, particularly in China, where young workers sit and view images, tagging them with dots, lines, and descriptions.
The processed output of AVA can be found online. At the moment of writing, entries are included for a range of actions, including smoking, dancing, listening to, sing, reach, crouch and kneel.
aaajiao takes the freely available, already processed datasets from AVA and manipulates the image. While maintaining the visual language of AVA, with its use of the purple bounding boxes, he eliminates the desired information. An overload of images is flashing increasingly more rapid before the viewer. Mundane movements take on an air of suspicion hidden from view.
The work ‘A.I. Goooooooooogle infiltration’ is installed on the ground floor of the former IBM building on Ernst-Reuter-Platz. Here, in the 1960s, the first data processors were installed, clearly on view to all passersby in West-Berlin.
Now we are the data, we provide the data, we analyze the data and are continuously more influenced by our own data. Logged in, cookies saved, and continuously tracked, our lives are lived more and more online. The potential influence our own data may have over us is looming before us.