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Net Art Anthology: AGNES

AGNES is invasive and uncomfortable– it asks personal questions and provides no good reason to answer. Where do the answers go? Why is there such a barricade around a gallery website? Watching the screen recordings, I began to think about the reality of human-AI interactions today and information gathering. An obvious, AGNES-esque evolution of AI is the chat-bots that pop up in websites. When I see chat-bots, my automatic response is to question who I’m talking to and if the responses are programmed. On the topic of AI, would AGNES even be considered artificial intelligence, when she seemingly adapts nothing from previous interactions? I wouldn’t consider most chat-bots AI, when their job is to feed you a canned response if a keyword/phrase is detected. I think the true AI on the internet are the programs behind personalized feeds, targeted advertisement and information gathering– your experiencing of the internet, your digital reality, changes based on a program’s observation of you. It’s all happening with no narration, and no apologies; we accept the knowledge that it’s happening because that narration isn’t there. AGNES asks the viewer to prove that they are real– is this an outdated question? As we automate more and more of our digital actions, when does our ownership over them disappear? The average internet user now has a pseudo-bot, completing menial tasks like filling out forms and recommending/optimizing their experience. Those times I let Google fill out my forms– were those words mine, was I there? The action was the result of an uncountable, untraceable series of actions, digested by code made by humans but understood by practically no one. We have begun to see the implications of AI made without human’s best interest in mind, like Facebook’s affect on election results and YouTube’s algorithm prioritizing some creators over others. When AGNES was created, I guess we thought that once AI became predatory, we’d at least be able to see it.