This essay by artist Jeff Guess loosely brings together three narratives on the construction of quite different forms of artificial intelligence: the hidden human labour embedded in machine learning, the latent control structures at work in behaviourist teaching machines, and a chimpanzee incited to self-learn human language in a proto-smart home. At the heart of these scientific and industrial projects is a technocratic vision of learning and teaching where thought, perception and attention can be mechanised and distilled into algorithms.

Un ingénieur du Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory travaillant sur le réseau de neurones artificiels Perceptron développé par Frank Rosenblatt, Buffalo, circa 1960.

Jeff Guess is an artist and professor of algorithmic practices at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts Paris-Clergy (ENSAPC). His work revolves around technical images and their multiple intertwinings with language and the voice. His recent exhibitions include Snap + Share (SFMOMA, 2019), The House of Dust (MAK Center for Art and Architecture, 2019), The Tyranny of Distance (Tin Flats and Galerie Thézé, 2018) and Autophoto (Fondation Cartier, 2017).

Citation: Jeff Guess, « Conversations », Transbordeur. Photographie histoire société, no. 3, 2019, pp. 36-47.

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