[ISEA95] Paper: Mike King – Artificial consciousness, artificial art


The electronic arts derive their energy and fascination from the relationship between artist and machine. Attempts to automate art are increasingly successful as developments take place in artificial intelligence, artificial creativity and artificial life. However, it may take artificial consciousness to create a totally artificial life. This in turn requires the resolution of a the question: is quantum mechanics inextricably linked with consciousness? If it is, then a computable consciousness may be impossible – and the future of a totally artificial art may hinge on this.


James Gleik points out in Chaos’ that the 20th century will probably be remembered for three great scientific revolutions: relativity, quantum mechanics, and chaos theory. We are seeing, in embryonic stage, the first scientific revolution of the 21st century: studies in consciousness. The claims for chaos theory are that, unlike for the preceding two revolutions, it relates to the more immediately tangible world of our experience. Studies in consciousness relates in turn to an intangible but infinitely more intimate world: our being. The discoveries by Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler that showed the Earth to revolve around the Sun became a metaphor for the growing realisation that Man was not at the centre of the Universe, but an insignificant by-product of the forces of nature. One can characterise the universe that grew from this classical physics as anthropo-eccentric, that is a universe in which man is no longer at the centre, in contrast to the previous anthropo-centric universe. The more recent discoveries of chaos theory show a less ordered universe, with room for ‘emergent’ properties, however – rocks, weather, organisms, society, the economy: these become non-linear systems with unpredictable developments, but they are still deterministic. The individual is a system of
organs and cells, the result of a gene pool system, embedded within social and economic systems. The individual is still alienated. Until quantum theory. Quantum theory completes the cycle of scientific revolution and renders the universe anthropo-centric once more.

  • Mike King (UK) received a B.Sc. in physics and chemistry, an M.Sc. in software engineering and a Ph.D. in computer graphics. He is currently reader in the Department of Art, Design, Silversmithing and Jewelry, London Guildhall University, UK. He has taught for ten years in computer art and animation.

Full text p. 137-140