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Dec 3, 2017

Killer Robots Need to be Addressed NOW!

We cannot delay talking about killer robots. Their time is here! If you've seen the pathetic videos of humanoid robots falling over at the DARPA challenge, it's time to look again. Robots are now very dexterous, like this one doing a backflip! But it's not these termintor-type robots that most concern me.

A recent article captures our attention with the line: "The most terrifying film of the year didn’t come from Hollywood." It's a chilling short video I would encourage everyone to watch, a shocking but realistic depiction (fictional, partly) of what autonomous weapons mean for humanity. The UN just concluded its first ever meeting on autonomous robots with many nations moving into rapid-action mode, trying to curtail the mega-death technology that is now available.  Without a massive public campaign to stop them, we will see them unleashed on humans in the very near future. The technology is already here.

I encourage everyone to sign the letter against autonomous weapons, that circulated at the UN conference. The pace of change is more rapid than even I (an expert of sorts in the developments of AI) can keep track of. I recently spearheaded a series of symposia to try to foster public dialog about the rise of AI among us so more people could understand what is at stake. (Here's the most recent)*. Though they were popular and successful, the thing that struck me the most is how cavalier attendees were about the dangers, most having an understanding of AI that lags years behind current developments. We tend to think of machines being subservient to us. But we are entering a new era of AI where they have their own agenda that we cannot penetrate. Also, many of the dangers I see are quite subtle and would only become apparent to most people in retrospect, after action is futile. No matter how unpleasant, we MUST talk about these issues now before it is too late!

*Ironically, the maker of this film, AI guru Russell Stuart, was scheduled to present at our latest Helena symposium but we didn't raise enough money to bring him!

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.