Mara Eagle ’12 Asks for Diversity in Artificial Intelligence

An artist fellow at Berggruen Institute, Mara speaks up at an event titled “Speed Dating for the Mind.”

July 16, 2019

“I think that it’s important that there’s more diversity in terms of who’s deciding—when we’re talking about artificial intelligence—what is intelligence?” said Mara Eagle ’12, a conceptual artist based in Montreal and artist fellow with Berggruen Institute. “What is the self? These questions are huge, and who is deciding?”

Mara was speaking at an event titled “Speed Dating for the Mind: Quick Fire Talks of the Arts & Sciences,” hosted by Berggruen Institute and the National Academy of Science in New York City last December. The institute is an independent, non-partisan think tank, founded by investor and philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen, which develops transformative ideas to shape political and social institutions. The New York event was part of the annual Berggruen Prize for Philosophy & Culture, and was billed as “a salon to celebrate ideas and thinkers shaping our world.”

As an artist fellow in the Berggruen Institute Transformations of the Human program, Mara imparted her views about the the violence embedded in many technologies that she uses in her art. Mara shared the “Speed Dating for the Mind” stage with invertebrate biologist Mark Siddall, information scientist Brian Cantwell Smith, conceptual artist Anicka Yi, anthropologist David Platzer, and Transformations of the Human program director Tobias Rees.

Mara works in a wide range of media including sound, video, sculpture, performance, and photography. She pulls intuitively from the world of pop-culture, the Internet, and technology industries to create enigmatic and often humorous work. “In my own work, what I want people to experience is a bit more ambiguity,” said Mara. Berggruen Institute is commissioning artworks from her, mainly experimental video, through 2020.