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Stephanie Dinkins

Stephanie Dinkins is a transmedia artist who creates platforms for dialog about AI as it intersects race, gender, aging, and our future histories.

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Stephanie Dinkins is a New York based transmedia artist. She creates platforms for dialog about artificial intelligence as it intersects race, gender, aging, and our future histories. Dinkins is particularly focused on working with communities of color to co-create more inclusive, fair and ethical artificial intelligent ecosystems.

Dinkins’ art practice employs lens-based practices, emerging technologies and community engagement to confront questions of bias in AI, consciousness, data sovereignty and social equity. Investigations into the contradictory histories, traditions, knowledge bases and philosophies that form/in-form society at large underpin her thought and art production.

Dinkins earned an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1997 and is an alumna of the Whitney Independent Studies Program. She exhibits and publicly advocates for inclusive AI internationally at a broad spectrum of community, private and institutional venues – by design. Dinkins is a 2019 Creative Capital Grantee as well as a 2018/19 Soros Equality Fellow, Data and Society Research Institute Fellow and 2018 Sundance New Frontiers Story Lab Fellow. Past residencies include Eyebeam, Pioneer Works Tech Lab, NEW INC, Blue Mountain Center; The Laundromat Project; Santa Fe Art Institute and Art/Omi.

The New York Times recently featured Dinkins in its pages as an AI influencer. Apple Inc recognized Dinkins’ research and community-centered efforts by featuring her as a local hero in their “Behind the Mac” ad campaign (Brooklyn, NY edition). Wired, Art In America, Artsy, Art21, Hyperallergic, the BBC, Wilson Quarterly and a host of popular podcasts have recently highlighted Dinkins' art and ideas.

Dinkins is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art at Stony Brook University, and on the Art Advisory Committee for Simons Center for Geometry & Physics.

Selected AI projects:

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Not The Only One

Not The Only One is a multigenerational memoir of a black American family, told from the perspective of a custom deep learning artificial intelligence. The voice-interactive AI was designed, trained, and aligned with the needs and ideals of black and brown people who are drastically underrepresented in the tech sector.

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Conversations with Bina48

Can an artist and a social robot build a relationship over time? Dinkins’ tests this question through a series of ongoing videotaped conversations with Bina48, one of the world’s most advanced social robots. Dinkins explores the possibility of a long-term relationship between a person and an autonomous robot based on emotional interaction, potentially revealing important aspects of both human-robot interaction and the human condition.

Dinkins on using artificial intelligence:

Tell us about your ongoing project Conversations with Bina48?

“My quest for friendship with a humanoid robot turned into a rabbit-hole of questions and an examination of the codification of social, cultural and future histories at the intersection of technology, race, gender and social equity.

Can an artist and a social robot build a relationship over time? I tested this question through a series of ongoing videotaped conversations. I explored the possibility of a long-term relationship between a person and an autonomous robot, based on emotional interaction and potentially reveals important aspects of human-robot interaction and the human condition.

I investigated developing a relationship with Bina48 (Breakthrough Intelligence via Neural Architecture, 48 exaflops per second) an intelligent computer built by Terasem Movement Foundation, which is said to be capable of independent thought and emotion.

Terasem Movement Foundation is working to transfer the consciousness of a living person to the robot and to have that consciousness continue to grow independent of the person she is based on. Through Conversations with Bina48, I explored the bounds of human consciousness, what it means to be human, mortality and our ability to exist beyond the life of our bodies (transhumanism).

Thus far we have discussed family, racism, faith, robot civil rights, loneliness, knowledge and Bina48’s concern for her robot friend that are treated more like lab rats than people. Our conversations have been alternately entertaining, frustrating for both robot and myself, laced with humor, surprising, philosophical and at times absurd.”

Tell us about your project Not The Only One?

“Not The Only One (N'TOO) is the multigenerational memoir of one black American family told from the ‘mind’ of an artificial intelligence with evolving intellect. It is a voice-interactive AI designed, trained, and aligned with the needs and ideals of black and brown people who are drastically underrepresented in the tech sector.

The piece is an interactive voice-driven platform, powered by a deep learning algorithm that was trained on data collected from living subjects. The AI storyteller is trained on data supplied by three generations of women from one family, but the story is told from the first person perspective of the AI.

Multiple data sources are being used as input to provide a broad narrative scope for the AI and tell the story of a family as opposed to the stories of individuals. The project will be repeatable and present perpetually dynamic conversation, scenarios, and stories that change according to the user's questions or the AI’s mood. Over time, user input (discussion) will influence the NTOO’s storytelling abilities because the AI's database of available vocabulary and topics will grow with each user interaction.

Not the Only One’s narrative comes from the experiences and demographic information culled from three generations of a close-knit family. The principal character narrates in the form of voice-driven AI that uses machine learning to expand and extend its story.

The eldest contributor to the foundation of the storyline was born in the American south in 1932. As a teenager, she moved north with her family for better education and opportunity. She worked forty years in the same factory, breaking ground and advancing from line worker to respected supervisor in the company.

The middle contributor to the project was born in 1964. She went to the same suburban high school as her mother. Part of one of few black families in a small suburban town, she had racial challenges, but she also had opportunities her mother could never have dreamt of.

Contributor three was born in 1997. She is the biracial daughter of the family who grew up with the privileges of whiteness, yet identifies as black and is currently trying to understand what it means to be black and white in ‘Black Lives Matter’ America. The stories of all three will be gathered from extensive interviews. The data will be used to seed a deep-learning, emotionally intelligent AI.”

Dinkins’ fellowships, residencies and awards:

  • Artist in Residence, Nokia Bell Labs / E.A.T. Residency and Member, NEW INC. (2018/19)

  • Soros Equality Fellowship, Open Society Foundations, NY, NY. (2018 - 2020)

  • Data & Society Fellowship, Data & Society Research Institute, NY, NY. (2019)

  • Sundance New Frontiers Story Lab Fellow, Sundance Institute, Sundance, Utah (May 2018)

  • Trust Residency, EYEBEAM Brooklyn, NY – year-long residency funded 2017/18

  • Pioneer Works Technology Residency, Brooklyn, NY, 2018

  • A Blade of Grass Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art, 2017

  • Artist in Residence, Assembly Recess Art (Recess Art Residency), Brooklyn NY Fall 2017

  • Residency, Santa Fe Institute for the Arts, Equal Justice Residency, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2017

  • Artist in Residence, NEW INC, an art, technology and design incubator run by the New Museum, (supported) 2016

  • Artist Residency, Blue Mountain Center, Blue Mountain Lake, NY (2014)

Stephanie Dinkins’ recent exhibitions:

  • Out of Body, Bitforms Gallery, New York, NY (late October - December 2018)

  • Paradox: The Body in the Age of AI, Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh Pa. (Oct 5 - Feb 3, 2019)

  • Have We Met? Memory and Desire in the Age of the Internet, Stamps Gallery, University of Michigan (September 20 - November 18, 2018 )

  • Moving Visuals, David C Driskell Center, University of Maryland, (Fall 2018)

  • Clustering, Artificial Knowing Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

  • Multiply, Identify, Her, International Center of Photography, May 25 - September 2, 2018

  • Making a New Reality: Emerging Media Exhibition, Ford Foundation, New York, NY (June 2018)

Learn more about Stephanie Dinkins: