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Lydia Kostopoulos

Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos is an American national security professional whose art explores the implications of AI on our future.


Kostopoulos’ series #ArtAboutAI is an avant-garde attempt to make artificial intelligence more accessible for an informed civic debate. Lydia felt art was the best medium to transcend language and culture - and so #ArtAboutAI was born. The pieces are informed by the latest technological developments in the field so that the art becomes a transformative learning experience.

Her art work offers the "human gaze" which complements art being made by AI through the "algorithmic gaze". #ArtAboutAI has received critical praise for its ability to "illustrate the advancements, conflicts, contradictions and tension that come with developing artificial intelligence." As well as for capturing AI millstones "in a way that is engaging emotionally and cognitively."

Kostopoulos on using artificial intelligence:

What excites (or worries) you most about AI?

I am excited about all the benefits AI will bring to agriculture, medicine, civil engineering, and many more fields. I am worried about the assumptions that creators of this technology have and how their bias will be embedded into the technology, I am equally concerned about users of AI assuming that the data and algorithms are perfect and could never be wrong. There is still a lot we don't understand about how algorithms come to the conclusions they do. My piece "The Magic in Between" aims to visually represent this situation. It has two magnifying glasses on either side of the black box and the magnifying glass on the left illustrates how we can examine the data that goes into an algorithm, and the magnifying glass on the right illustrating how we can examine the data that the algorithm produced. However what happens in between can be hard to explain, which is why I represent that with a black canvas and colorful waves intersecting each other. It is my hope that we collectively engage in more civic debate on AI as it has many ramifications for our day to day lives and human experience.”

How does your art address AI and its implications?

“The subjects of my art are elements of artificial intelligence advancements, concerns or social topics that arise from the technological development. For example my latest piece is "I can complete you" and it is in response to the proliferation of AI chatbots that are meant to provide conversational companionship to humans. In this piece I aim to challenge the viewer to reflect on the ability of AI and anthropomorphized technology to fulfill human needs to 'connect' with other beings. The piece is not meant to advocate for any opinion, but instead offer a socio-technological scenario for reflection - in this case, it is a scenario that exists today with the prevalence of emotional chatbots and the fusion of these chatbots with a life size human doll.”

How has AI changed your creative practices?

“The continued advances and technological developments inform my art work as I look to represent them through the human gaze, in a way that humans can relate to. For example my piece "Turtle Rifle" is informed by the research conducted at MIT LabSix which examined adversarial examples with neural nets and were able to convince the AI that a turtle they 3D printed was a rifle.”

Extended bio:

Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos’ multi-disciplinary work lies in the intersection of people, technology and national security. Her professional experience spans three continents, several countries and multi-cultural environments.

She has taught in several institutions, most recently at the National Defense University and at the Joint Special Operations University where she lectured on emerging technologies. And has addressed the United Nations CCW GGE on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems.

Pursuing her many interests with rigor has led her to study several European languages; design a collection of functional suits with professional women’s needs at the center under her trademarked label ‘Empowering Workwear by Lydia’ led sketching sessions at the Smithsonian American Art Museum; and makes art as part of her #ArtAboutAI series to raise awareness about the technology. She is passionate about ethics, culture and technology and has released a penta-lingual reflectional game called Sapien 2.0, which is about emerging technologies that are set to change elements of the human experience from birth to death.

Kostopoulos’ exhibitions:

  • ArtAboutAI: The First Pieces [Private Viewing], Washington DC, USA (2018)

  • ITU AI for Good Global Summit, Geneva, Switzerland (2019)

Kostopoulos speaking engagements:

  • (May 2019 - Amsterdam) Spoke at The Next Web (TNW) conference on AI ethics in the developmental stages. 

  • (May 2019 - Orlando) Spoke at the annual KnowBe4Con on DeepFakes: State of Affairs, State of Defense.

  • (Apr 2019 - Pittsburgh) Spoke on Strategic and Operational Adaptation of Emerging Technologies at the USSOCOM Sovereign Challenge conference. (slides not available)

  • (Apr 2019) Submitted a Public Statement to the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Board's public call for comments on ethical and responsible use of Artificial Intelligence for the Department of Defense (DoD).

  • (Apr 2019 - Madrid, Granada, Barcelona) Invited by the U.S. Embassy in Madrid to take part in a week long Public Diplomacy program across Spain delivering talks on emerging technology, artificial intelligence and national security with Spanish national security organizations. (slides not available).

  • (Feb 2019 - Dubai) Participated in the World Government Summit's Global AI Governance Workshop.

  • (Jan 2019) Delivered a Joint Staff Strategic Multi-Layer Analysis (SMA) lecture on AI Due Diligence Items for Consideration as Scientists, Commanders & Politicians explore AI Opportunities (Slides).

  • (Nov 2018 - Brussels) Briefed NATO HQ military officials on AI and convergence for national security.

  • (Nov 2018 - Seoul) Spoke on Cooperative Efforts to Respond to Emerging Technologies & Cyber Threats at the 3rd International Conference on Building Global Cyberspace Peace Regime organized by the National Security Research Institute the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Cyber Security Center. (slides not available).

  • (Oct 2018 - Delhi)  Spoke at the Observer Research Foundation CyFy on artificial intelligence and society. Publication: Article on autonomous weapons systems and adversarial AI.

  • (Oct 2018 - Amsterdam) Spoke on “AI and Weapons Systems” in the closing panel of the World AI Summit.

  • (Sep 2018 - Stockholm) Spoke on Artificial Intelligence, Emerging Tech and National Security Use-Cases at the Stockholm Security Conference hosted by SIPRI and the Munich Security Conference.

  • (Aug 2018 - Geneva) Addressed the UN CCW GGE on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems on "Human Involvement in the LAWS life cycle" at the United Nations in Geneva. 

  • (Apr 2018 - Tokyo) Spoke on "Cyber Military Education In an Era of Change" at the NATO Science for Peace Program Workshop on Cyber Military Defense in Tokyo, Japan.

  • (Feb 2018 - San Diego) Presented a paper on AI ethics and wellness at the 'Legal Ethics Symposium': Intersection between AI and Public Health' at California Western School of Law in San Diego.

  • (Jan 2018 - CyFy) Spoke on multi domain battle at the'Evolving Methods of Warfare' panel at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi. (Video).

  • (Nov 2017 - Geneva) Address the UN CCW GGE on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems on the 'Military Effects' panel at the United Nations in Geneva.

  • (Nov 2017 - New York) Spoke on the Technological Unemployment: Trends insights and strategies for the path forward in New York.

Learn more about Lydia Kostopoulos: