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A conversation with Refik Anadol on creativity and AI

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Throughout history, art has undergone seismic shifts that have altered its trajectory in profound ways. From the Renaissance and Impressionism, to photography and the electric guitar, artistic movements and breakthroughs — often inspired by new tools or ways of looking at the world — have expanded the canvas of human creativity. Today, we are experiencing another monumental shift with the advent of AI, which is introducing a new suite of tools that push boundaries and expand the frontiers of imagination.

In my role leading the Technology & Society Envisioning Studio, I partner across Google and beyond to help imagine the possibilities of emerging technologies for society. Bringing together artists, storytellers, and creative thinkers with technologists, philosophers, social scientists and policy thinkers, these partnerships help catalyze the development of ambitious technologies through responsible co-creation and collaborative exploration. This shared approach expands our horizons and also allows us to work through complexities together, in a clear-eyed way.

To ensure our work remains grounded in real-world challenges and experiences, an important part of this practice is connecting with and working alongside experts and community members outside of Google. Recently I sat down with trailblazing and world-renowned media artist Refik Anadol to record a conversation on AI and creativity.

Refik Anadol: Unsupervised, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, November 19, 2022 – October 29, 2023. © 2023 The Museum of Modern Art.

A former artist in residence at Google and collaborator in our Artist and Machine Intelligence Program, Refik is a pioneer in the aesthetics of machine intelligence whose data visualizations have been featured in major museums and festivals all over the world.

Exploring data, storytelling and how artists are using AI as a creative tool, Refik and I also discussed what it means to be an artist in the age of AI. For Refik, data can be used as a primary material and AI, a “thinking brush,” empowering his radical visualizations to expand the possibilities of art.

Technology is a powerful way of enhancing our cognitive capacity…for artists it's pretty much an incredible opportunity to push their imagination. Refik Anadol

As an artist myself, I care deeply that the technologies and tools we make are empowering, and enable both creatives and broader society to thrive. Through conversations and working responsibly together with artists like Refik, I’m excited about how AI might open up new modalities, and the inspiring possibilities to come for creative expression.

Tune into my Dialogue with Refik, and stay tuned for more conversations on AI in our Dialogues on Technology and Society playlist on YouTube.

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