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Hot topics at Beyond 2019: AI and its impact on future creativity

Taking place in Edinburgh on 20-21 November, this year’s BEYOND conference looks into the impact of artificial intelligence and creative-led data on creativity and the arts. Academics, businesses, journalists, and creative professionals from around the UK are coming together to discuss the most recent innovations in the fields of AI and machine learning, and how these discoveries can be applied for the development of the creative industries.

Hosted by tech and science writer Gemma Milne, the conference opens with a keynote from Carly Kind (director of the Ada Lovelace Institute) and includes six main panels, all covering exciting topics on the intersection of AI and machine learning, creativity, and business innovation.

Image © Lonelyleap – The human voice and AI, Reeps One

The first panel, Just a Member of the Band, introduces us to AI’s role in the creative industries as an assistant and tool that has the potential to take us beyond human capabilities. Featuring Audio/Visual Solo artist Reeps One, Scriptbook’s Michiel Ruelens, Parry Malm from Phrasee and Chanuki Seresinhe from the Alan Turing Institute and Popsa, this first session lays the ground for two days of talks and debates on the creative, artistic and business possibilities that AI and machine learning opens up for human creativity.

The conference’s second panel, And the Award Goes To… welcomes academics Professor Dave Bull (University of Bristol) and Professor Darren Cosker (University of Bath) to the stage. This session questions AI’s creative capabilities. Can AI really produce something original and worthy of awards and accolades, or is it simply a tool like other established media? If AI can indeed create, how do we negotiate the idea of the machine as author?

Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

The Imagine Me, Gentle Spectators panel session discusses AI’s potential to change the existing rules of storytelling, thereby transforming the stage production process and the audience’s experience of immersive narratives. Panellists in this session include Guy Gadney (Charisma AI), Adam Ganz (StoryFutures), Ian Hambleton (Maze Theory) and Professor Abigail Williams (University of Oxford), who will also showcase recent immersive work, looking at emerging forms of narrative and audience/writer collaborations.

The second day of the conference dives further into the depths of data, its uses and value for the creative industries. In Hidden Values: Data, Discovery and Recommendations, Sarah Coward (The Forever Project), Brendan Miles (The List), and Chanuki Seresinhe (Alan Turing Institute, Popsa) reflect on the possibilities that machine learning can unlock for archives and databases and the implications of such algorithms for culture production.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Finally, BEYOND explores the dark side of AI and creative-led data in Dark Data: Bias, Trust and Inclusion. In this session, panel chair Nicola Osborne and Angus Bancroft (University of Edinburgh) sit down with Karen Palmer (Storyteller from the Future/Artist) and Professor Michael Rovastos (University of Edinburgh) to talk through the consequences of the current implementations of AI such as surveillance capitalism and the data economy.

In addition to the core panels, the conference features a number of creative interludes, led or narrated by artists, storytellers and researchers on the intersection of creativity and AI, including Jake Elwes, Pip Thornton, Åste Amundsen and Lukas Dirzys. On display throughout the conference, the Innovation Showcase features a number of AI-led projects with live demos. Plus, the Early Career Researchers’ Poster Exhibition demonstrates research by young academics in leading UK universities, also available for delegates to visit over the course of the BEYOND Conference.

Funded by UK Research and Innovation as part of the Industrial Strategy, sign up for updates on BEYOND here.

Main photo © by h heyerlein on Unsplash