Pharmako-AI US Book Launch

Gray Area hosts a special event celebrating the US publication of Pharmako-AI, published by Ignota Books. Join K Allado-McDowell, Refik Anadol, Dorothy R. Santos and Elvia Wilk to launch the first book to be co-created with the emergent AI GPT-3.

In this event, Refik Anadol and K Allado-McDowell present a performance of machine hallucinations, floating heads and sound, followed by a conversation with Dorothy R. Santos and Elvia Wilk.

During the first summer of the coronavirus pandemic, K Allado-McDowell out of curiosity fed a diary entry to GPT-3. This was the beginning of a remarkable conversation that unfolded into a labyrinthine exploration of memory, language and the nature of the universe.

In the isolation of lockdown, Allado-McDowell wrote to the AI in a trance-like state over the course of a fortnight. As the author and the machine rapidly became mirrors of each other, age-old questions about human existence became a lived experience for the interlocutors. What is the nature of human consciousness? How and why did we invent language? How is reality constructed? Pharmako-AI is a hallucinatory journey into selfhood, ecology and intelligence via cyberpunk, ancestry and the Californian dream.

Through a writing process akin to musical improvisation, Allado-McDowell and GPT-3 together offer a fractal poetics of AI and a glimpse into the future of literature. Pharmako-AI reimagines cybernetics for a world facing multiple crises, with profound implications for how we see ourselves, nature and technology in the 21st century.

Image credits: Refik Anadol, Machine Hallucinations : Nature, 2020. Latent Space Study of 68,986,479 million images.

Reviews for Pharmako-AI

‘The GPT-3 neural net is powerful, and when it’s fed a steady diet of Californian psychedelic texts, the effect is spectacular. No human being ever composed a “book” like Pharmako-AI – it reads like a gnostic’s Ouija board powered by atomic kaleidoscopes.’ — Bruce Sterling, author of The Difference Engine and Islands in the Net and editor of Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology

‘This is the first time I feel as if technology is actively participating in our collective effort to make sense of life and our shared destiny. And I’m actually hopeful we may get to do this next stage of existence, together.’ — Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock, Team Human and Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus

‘As Star Wars instructs, hyperspace is a place – once you arrive there, you can relax. K Allado-McDowell locates this place on Earth, and this extraordinary book contains their map directions. Would it not be great to land our kinky machines there, as soon as we possibly can? The nonhumans are getting anxious.’ — Timothy Morton, author of Being Ecological and Humankind: Solidarity with Non-Human People

‘A wild ride that triggers sensory overload and makes real the surreality of machinic presence in our daily lives.’ — Legacy Russell, author of Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto

‘An exciting example of the future of AI creativity: code as collaborator not competitor. Discover how AI can stop us humans falling into lazy mechanistic ways of thinking and challenge us with provocative new ideas.’ — Marcus du Sautoy, Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford and author of The Creativity Code


K Allado-McDowell

K Allado-McDowell is a writer, speaker, and consultant to cultural, artistic, and technological institutions that seek to align their work with larger traditions of human understanding. Allado-McDowell established the Artists + Machine Intelligence program at Google AI. They are the author, with GPT-3, of the books Pharmako-AI and Amor Cringe. They are the co-editor, with Ben Vickers, of The Atlas of Anomalous AI. Allado-McDowell records and releases music under the name Qenric.

Refik Anadol

Refik Anadol

Refik Anadol is a media artist and director born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1985. Currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Embedding media arts into architecture, he questions the possibility of a post digital architectural future in which there are no more non-digital realities.

Dorothy Santos

Dorothy Santos is a Filipina American writer, artist, and educator whose academic and research interests include feminist media histories, critical medical anthropology, technology, race, and ethics. She is a PhD student in Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz as a Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellow. She is a co-founder of REFRESH, a politically-engaged art and curatorial collective and serves as the Executive Director for the Processing Foundation.

Elvia Wilk

Elvia Wilk is a writer living in New York. Her work has appeared in publications like Frieze, Artforum, Bookforum, Granta, BOMB, n+1, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Aperture, and Art in America. Her first novel, Oval, was published in 2019 by Soft Skull Press.

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