Ed Finn

Director, Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona

Ed Finn is the founding director of the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University where he is an assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English. He also serves as the academic director of Future Tense, a partnership between ASU, New America and Slate Magazine, and a co-director of Emerge, an annual festival of art, ideas and the future. He is the author of What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing (2017) and co-editor of Frankenstein: Annotated for Scientists, Engineers and Creators of All Kinds (2017).

Written by Ed Finn

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Art by algorithm

Ed Finn

Thanks for the great comments so far.

I find myself most drawn to the question of surprise in an era of computation. Especially the question of whether algorithmic creative tools and platforms are creating a more constrained palette of possibilities, a curated menu of aesthetic options. Choosing from the menu will inevitably limit our creative choices, and it’s very seductive to just click a button and watch something “creative” happen, so we’re naturally inclined to go along with the algorithmic fiction that we are the artists making our own creative choices.

I do take the point others have made that all of our tools work like this. But what I think is new about algorithms ...

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