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Poetry Luv x 'AI: Who's Looking After Me?' Review

Photo by Andrea De Santis (licensed under Unsplash Licence)

Until January 2024, it is artificial intelligence (AI) season at Science Gallery London. Named one of London’s best free exhibitions by the Evening Standard, 'AI: Who’s looking after me?' consists of a series of free events and displays that 'take a questioning and playful look at the ways artificial intelligence is already shaping so many areas of our lives'. In collaboration with researchers at King's College London, technologists, patients, various artists and other individuals, the exhibition discusses important topics such as the impact AI has on our health and happiness, its fair distribution, and how it fits inside our power structures — who it benefits and harms.

Most of these questions — that concern many of us since we learned of AI’s existence — were expressed in the poetry showcase held with Poetry Luv on the 30th of September. Poetry Luv is a poetry and spoken word platform that gives a voice to up and coming artists, some of whom stayed in a short residence at Science Gallery London. There, the poets attended a series of workshops and debated with AI researchers from King’s, eventually creating this showcase.

After some time in the reception enjoying the catering and socialising with performers and other attendees, the audience entered the performance room, and we took our seats in the stalls. The event began with Poetry Luv’s characteristic open mic slots, which were flawlessly introduced by the event’s presenter Poetikah (@poetikah). Not all the poems performed on stage were directly related to the topic of AI, but they were nonetheless fascinating, and due to its overbearing nature, it was easy to connect them to the subject at hand. It is commendable that Poetry Luv dedicated a great part of its event to give all artists a platform, and the audience clearly enjoyed it. All the poets were massively talented, and the environment was welcoming and vibrant. After a short interval that allowed people to rest and get to know their favourite poets, the event re-started with the last open mic’s performers, ending with the poet and ex-battle rapper Big Scoop (@_bigscoop). He was presented by Poetikah as having ‘bars after bars after bars’, and he really did. His performance was mind-blowing because of its emotional content, the amazing wordplay, and the way he expressed it without ever showing signs of running out of energy. Poetikah also recited an impressive and lovely poem about AI’s role in making human connection significantly harder, and in turn making her nostalgic for the time spent with her loved ones.

Once the Open Mic slot ended, the second part of the event began with Poetry Luv’s members standing up and discussing with each other the potential effects of AI. Without moving from their seats, they voiced several concerns in the form of a beautifully poetic dialogue, some arguing in favour of the technology and some harshly against it. They expressed their worry at artificial intelligence’s role in making us less intelligent, creative, and original. What is more, they denounced many other topics, among them that AI amplifies structural inequalities and differences rather than reducing them, due to its unfair distribution and the way it utilises existing content; that AI cannot differentiate between good and bad sources, and that it is a poor substitute of humans in any role, lacking the understanding we many times need. There was also a feeling of discomfort at the fact that artificial intelligence’s impact in our lives is already occurring, without us getting a say in it. While the original format was sometimes hard to follow for me, I thoroughly enjoyed this immersive recital. Not only did it manage to keep the focus of the audience’s attention by forcing them to look at the different speakers, but it also perfectly mirrored the general discussion happening about AI both in person and online, in the sense that it seems to be urgent, different, and deeply multi-directional, infiltrating many areas of our lives.

‘AI: who’s looking after me?’ was undoubtedly a brilliant event, filled with talented speakers and interesting poetry that raised important concerns about the topic of AI. I will be checking out the next events of the AI season at the Science Gallery London, and I strongly recommend doing so if you can!

Image Courtesy of Science Gallery London

You can find out more about 'AI: Who's looking after me?' here.


Edited by Lara Mae Simpson, Literature Editor


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