14 May 2021 15:00

Can AI make sense of art?


We hear from the ECLT network 2021

"Can AI make sense of Art?"

Luc Steels
Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Study (ICREA) and fellow at ECLT.

14th May 2021, 3 PM

To participate via zoom, please use this link.

Today AI is very much in the news with achievements in many areas of science, engineering and application. But how far has AI advanced in comparison to human intelligence?
To find the scope and limitations of the current state of the art in AI I propose to look at art as one of the highest achievements of human intelligence. Can we somehow simulate the experience that a human has when looking at a painting? This requires that we not only address issues of computer vision and pattern recognition but also semantic issues related to meaning and understanding. This talk is based on a case study that I carried out the past year culminating in an exhibition starting on 3 April 2021 at the BOZAR cultural center in Brussels. The subject was a world-renowned Flemish painter Luc Tuymans, and specifically one of his painting 'Secrets' that was last shown in his solo exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice during 2019-2020. Based on extensive discussions with the artist, I made a model in the form of a transient narrative network that is fed with input from computer vision, language processing with text from the catalog, queries to semantic resources such as knowledge graphs, thesauri and dictionaries, and inferences based on computational ontologies.
The conclusion of this experiment is that using AI algorithms to investigate the computational nature of art interpretation is very illuminating, not only because it helps us to look more intently and to grasp more deeply the cultural and intrinsic meanings of an art work, but also because it shows us the remarkable richness of the human mind - making all claims that superhuman artificial intelligence will soon be reached sound hollow.

Short Bio:
Luc Steels studied linguistics at the University of Antwerp (Belgium) and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA). His main research field is Artificial Intelligence covering a wide range of intelligent abilities, including vision, robotic behavior, conceptual representations and language. In 1983 he became a professor of computer science at the University of Brussels (VUB). He has been co-founder and chairman (from 1990 until 1995) of the VUB Computer Science Department (Faculty of Sciences).

He founded the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris in 1996 and became its first director. Currently he is ICREA research professor at the Institute for Evolutionary Biology (CSIC,UPF). Steels has participated in dozens of large-scale European projects and more than 30 PhD theses have been granted under his direction. He has produced over 200 articles and edited 15 books directly related to his research. During the past decade he has focused on theories for the origins and evolution of language using computer simulations and robotic experiments to discover and test them.


The event will be held in English

Organized by

European Centre for Living Technology (ECLT)


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