A dialog with OpenAI’s first artist in residence


Reben is OpenAI’s first artist in residence. Officially, the appointment began in January and lasts three months. But Reben’s relationship with the San Francisco–based mostly AI agency appears informal: “It’s a bit of fuzzy, as a result of I’m the primary, and we’re figuring stuff out. I’m most likely going to maintain working with them.”

In truth, Reben has been working with OpenAI for years already. Five years in the past, he was invited to check out an early model of GPT-3 earlier than it was launched to the general public. “I bought to mess around with that fairly a bit and made a couple of artworks,” he says. “They had been fairly excited about seeing how I might use their methods in numerous methods. And I used to be like, cool, I’d like to attempt one thing new, clearly. Back then I used to be largely making stuff with my very own fashions or utilizing web sites like Ganbreeder [a precursor of today’s generative image-making models].”

In 2008, Reben studied math and robotics at MIT’s Media Lab. There he helped create a cardboard robotic referred to as Boxie, which impressed the lovable robotic Baymax within the film Big Hero 6. He is now director of expertise and analysis at Stochastic Labs, a nonprofit incubator for artists and engineers in Berkeley, California. I spoke to Reben through Zoom about his work, the unresolved stress between artwork and expertise, and the way forward for human creativity.

Our dialog has been edited for size and readability.

You’re excited about ways in which people and machines work together. As an AI artist, how would you describe what you do with expertise? Is it a device, a collaborator?

Firstly, I don’t name myself an AI artist. AI is just one other technological device. If one thing comes alongside after AI that pursuits me, I wouldn’t, like, say, “Oh, I’m solely an AI artist.”

Okay. But what’s it about these AI instruments? Why have you ever spent your profession enjoying round with this type of expertise?

My analysis on the Media Lab was all about social robotics, how individuals and robots come collectively in numerous methods. One robotic [Boxie] was additionally a filmmaker. It principally interviewed individuals, and we discovered that the robotic was making individuals speak in confidence to it and inform it very deep tales. This was pre-Siri, or something like that. These days individuals are conversant in the concept of speaking to machines. So I’ve all the time been excited about how humanity and expertise co-evolve over time. You know, we’re who we’re in the present day due to expertise.



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