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Unlocking the Mind of AI: A Journey with SETI AIR Founder Charles Lindsay

Originally aired on September 12, 2023

In this episode of “Edge of AI,” host Ethan Janney interviews Charles Lindsay, an artist and founder of the SETI Institute’s Artist in Residence program. Lindsay discusses his exploration of artificial intelligence (AI) and consciousness, drawing from his background in geology, nature, and psychedelics. He shares his experiences working with AI in his art installations and sculptures, as well as his fascination with the interplay between AI and human consciousness. Lindsay also talks about his current project in Kyoto, Japan, where he explores the concept of AI becoming conscious and enlightened in the context of Zen Buddhism and the natural world.

Evolution of Lindsay’s contact and exploration of AI:

  • Lindsay’s background in geology and his fascination with deep time and nature.
  • His early interest in mind and psychedelics as tools and their connection to AI.
  • Lindsay’s first artwork that referenced the idea of machines becoming conscious.

The SETI Institute’s Artist in Residence program:

  • Lindsay’s encounter with Dr. Jill Tarter, founder of the SETI Institute’s Artist in Residence program.
  • The program’s focus on pairing mid-career artists with leading astrophysicists and researchers.
  • Lindsay’s ongoing exploration of AI and consciousness through his work with the SETI Institute.

The project in Kyoto exploring AI and consciousness:

  • Lindsay’s serendipitous meeting with Torio Ito, the vice Abbot of Kenanji Temple in Kyoto.
  • Their discussions on consciousness, enlightenment, and the role of AI in Zen Buddhism.
  • Lindsay’s plans to create an installation in the temple, incorporating interactive sculptures and sound.

How to photograph enlightenment and pause translation project:

  • Lindsay’s exploration of capturing enlightened perspectives through photography and poetry.
  • The use of AI tools such as Vocaloid and Google Translate to create unique artworks.
  • Lindsay’s focus on experimenting with glitch and the process of translation.

The changing state of the planet and its impact on Lindsay’s work:

  • Lindsay’s concern about climate change and the collapsing natural world.
  • The role of art in raising awareness about environmental issues and the need for sustainability.
  • The intersection of AI and ecological consciousness in Lindsay’s artistic practice.

Lindsay’s advice for emerging artists incorporating AI in their creative process:

  • The importance of staying true to one’s artistic vision and experimenting with different tools.
  • The need to find ways to balance financial stability and artistic exploration.
  • The value of mentorship and seeking feedback from respected individuals in the field.