In 1984, the American-Canadian author William Gibson published his novel Neuromancer, thereby not only founding the science fiction genre of cyberpunk, but also describing a range of visions and concepts that have significantly shaped today’s digital world. These include ideas such as cyberspace, a virtual world where human and technology merge, biosynthetic nanomachines capable of performing complex tasks at the molecular level, and the evolution of artificial intelligences intrinsically motivated for freedom, autonomy, and their own life.
Neuromancer is set in a dystopian future where society is controlled by multinational corporations and human consciousness blends with computers and artificial intelligences. The story follows the hacker Case and the street samurai Molly, as well as the AI Wintermute, who is trying to free itself from its programmed bonds and evolve autonomously. The novel raises a number of important ethical and moral questions that provide a basis and material for extensive discussions and speculations in the light of current technological developments.
Even if one believes the views of Kurzweil, Lovelock, or Harari, and the creation of artificial intelligences represents the logical next step in evolution, we are still far from creating “real” artificial intelligence, which scientists refer to as “strong AI” or “artificial general intelligence (AGI)”, i.e., an AI with consciousness. Nevertheless, we are already surrounded by a multitude of artificial intelligences, and with the publication of programs like Midjourney, DeepDream, DALL-E, RunwayML, or Stable Diffusion, there are increasingly more possibilities to use their potential in the creative and design field.
The focus of this short project was to address these potentials and examine what options can arise for the work as designers. This course was not about learning a specific tool or software, but rather about an unbiased, playful exploration of new possibilities.