Josie Williams Image Credit: ( screenshot)

Josie Williams, EY Metaverse Lab to Debut AI-Generated Exhibit on Black Literary Figures

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Service partnership Ernst & Young LLP announced yesterday that they’re set to debut an artificial intelligence-based installation dedicated to historical Black figures.

Announced in a press release, Ernst & Young LLP, also known as EY US, said that they and their partners for the project, NEW INC, will make the exhibit available during the SXSW Art Program. Scheduled to be held in Austin, Texas, the event will run for one week from March 10 to March 17. 

Created by Josie Williams, the residential artist of EY Metaverse Lab, the exhibit, titled “Ancestral Archives,” honors writers such as James Baldwin, Octavia Butler, Audre Lorde and Zora Neale Hurston.

Using AI, the project creates virtual versions of these poets by generating poetic responses based on the writing styles of the authors. Made to inspire the younger generation when it comes to critical thinking, “Ancestral Archives” also gives them the opportunity to interact virtually with these writers through the metaverse. 

“I wanted to find out what would happen if the words of Black thought leaders were the only reference point for AI,” said creator Williams in the press release. “Part of what I am trying to challenge is the default preconception of whose voices are placed into these kinds of systems.”

The announcement of the new project comes during recent backlash against the role artificial intelligence has taken in the writing world. 

With programs like ChatGPT already serving as a threat to essay writing in the classroom, literature is a profession that’s projected to be affected by AI. 

In an article published last week, Reuters already reported that there’d been a rise in artificially produced writings on the Amazon Kindle store being sold in the form of e-books; according to the article, more than 200 of the e-books, including creative writings such as poetry, found on the store had ChatGPT listed as an author. As of now, Amazon is the top seller of e-books, composing more than 80% of annual e-book sales.

Despite this growing trend of AI-generated writing, there are some experts who believe that the shift to complete use of this new technology as a creative writing substitute isn’t on the horizon yet.

“More likely, I think, AI will prove wondrous but not immediately destabilizing. For example, we’ve been predicting for decades that AI will replace radiologists, but machine learning for radiology is still a complement for doctors rather than a replacement,” said the chairman of market strategy at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Michael Cembalest, per an interview with The Atlantic.

 “Let’s hope this is a sign of AI’s relationship to the rest of humanity—that it will serve willingly as the ship’s first mate rather than play the part of the fateful iceberg.”

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