‘I Am Not A Robot’: Global Art Forum in Dubai to explore automation and AI

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One of the highlights of Art Dubai, apart from its artistic offerings is the transdisciplinary summit - Global Art Forum - that is a key part of Dubai’s annual art calendar.

The Forum held since 2007 combines original thinking and contemporary themes in an intimate, live environment.

It has brought together over 400 global minds from pop culture to renowned academia: artists, curators, museum directors, filmmakers, novelists, historians, philosophers, technologists, entrepreneurs, musicians and performers, dialogue with one another across disciplines, reporting from every part of the world, painting a truly 21st century portrait of how the globalized world thinks.

This year’s theme for the 12th edition of Global Art Forum, is titled ‘I Am Not A Robot’, on automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Shumon Basar, Commissioner of the Forum, in a conversation with Al Arabiya English says: “One of the big questions the we will be discussing is whether automation is going to affect creativity and also equally, whether creativity in the arts has something to ponder over about automation that is different to how the tech world thinks.”

Shumon Basar, Commissioner of the Global Art Forum. (Courtesy: Art Dubai)
Shumon Basar, Commissioner of the Global Art Forum. (Courtesy: Art Dubai)

“We have a number of really great artists coming, who in their own ways are all embracing different forms of automation: Lawrence Abu Hamdan, who creates audiovisual installations and conducted investigations with Forensic Architecture, Yuri Pattison, who is an amazing artist who deals a lot with algorithms and data, Pamela Rozenkranz, who is interested in how humans are almost making themselves into pharmacological entities, Katja Novitskova, and Ania Soliman, among others.”


SEE ALSO: Global Art Forum - The Full program

“We also have a section looking at whether Eastern AI would be different to a Western AI. So we have Qing Wei, the National Technology Officer of Microsoft China, and two Professors – one from Barcelona and one from Cologne – and they have both done work on Confucianism and AI. I am really looking forward to this one,” says Basar.

“We also have the musician Fatima Al Qadiri, from Kuwait. She will be talking about music, djinn and the supernatural world of technology.”

Sci-fi lineup at Cinema Akil

Basar said that Cinema Akil has “a fantastic program” and that he is really excited about the “non-Western sci-fi line-up.”

There is a Sci-fi short mockumentary from Lebanon called ‘Last Days of the Man of Tomorrow’ (2017). It takes a look at Lebanon’s history through the life and legend of Manivelle, an automaton gifted to the nation in 1945, making it the country’s first AI citizen.

“Then we have a Kenyan sci-fi drama called ‘Pumzi’ (2009) directed by Wanuri Kahui, a post-apocalyptic future East Africa is visited, 35 years after World War III. Kahui is going to be in conversation with writer/curator Özge Calafato exploring these themes deeper., They would be talking about Afrofuturism, and how the questions of automation and robotization is having an impact on Africa.”

“Then we end with a documentary called ‘Free Lunch Society’ and this is about the Universal Basic Income. If we are not working, how do we make a living?”

Impact on work, employment

“Noah Radford, the COO of Dubai Future Foundation is the co-Director of the Global Art Forum this year and he is chairing a number of the sessions. We also have Jessica Bland, the head of research of the Dubai Future Foundation, who will be talking about the impact on work and employment. Hopefully, we will be talking about some of the initiatives that they have here at the Dubai Future Foundation for Dubai and the UAE.”

“There’s a way in which the sensations of the future are part of everyday life here in the UAE – good and bad – and I certainly know that this is a real life laboratory of experimental thinking. And hopefully, artists, writers and filmmakers can think in the same way,” Basar said.

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