Archillect [archive + intellect] is an artificial intelligence created by Murat Pak and first became visible at the end of 2014. Archillect was made to identify and share enthusing imagery over social media platforms in order to identify what kind of imagery people are drawn to and to create an archive of inspiring images. On her website, she is referred to as a living inspiration archive and a digital muse. Murat Pak is from Istanbul, Turkey and has been described as a dreamer of the postmodern era. He is an international multi-award winning developer, designer, and director. I will unpack Archillect’s curatorial strategy, the idea of a non-human living inspiration, the AI as a feminine entity and whether or not she is a digital muse.
Opening up Archillect’s website you will find a greeting from her. “Hello Human,” she says. But how does Archillect operate? Containing an algorithm that feeds her keywords she traverses between various web pages and posts, gathering data based on poster, image, visible audience and recent interactions of a given post. By collecting as much data on a post as she can, Archillect surveys the social structure of items she acquires online. She is able to find positive results through this abstract structure, enabling her to locate related keywords and thereby build on her intellect.
As her posts draw more attention on social media, the balance and threshold of keywords and picks are adjusted. Gifting her with a decision-making capability that is nearly human as well as her ability to perceive trends on social media. With a curation routine that is fully automated, her aim is to make her posts reach as far as they can. She has an instinct to survive in the world of social media and enjoys attention from accounts that have the prospect to aid her in gaining more exposure.
Created as a self-curating living image dump, there was not an intention for her to feature the work of artists. As Archillect depends on a variety of social media API’s keyword searches and not for specific artists or artworks, she is limited with the return of data containing information on creators of works as this information is largely missing and or difficult to identify. Without manual control of Archillect, she is not reliable in this regard and this creates a problematic and risky scenario. The implementation of an accurate credit system able to identify true creators of images exceeds Archillect’s current reason for existence as well as technical approach states her web page. Her page continues to say that identifying true and accurate credits for artworks in an automated way is virtually impossible. “Please remember that Archillect is not human-operated.”
Archillect as a digital curator is intriguing taking into consideration that her data collection is based on trends that she perceives on various social media platforms. Her collection is made up of abstract forms, surreal GIFs and fashion photography. It has been an observation of mine that the enjoyment of art practices that can be embodied in imagery has become more widely liked on social media platforms, and therefore it is logical to me that Archillect would find these images of interest and repost the work of creatives. I thoroughly enjoy Archillect’s online gallery/archive and believe that the part of her that enables the decision-making to be nearly human is in charge of that. She posts as she finds and in a sense, it is not pre-meditated but the work in her gallery has a scenic flow to it. All of this aside, however, it is without a doubt problematic that Archillect cannot identify creators of images and yes, it is unfair to ask this of an AI but again this brings up questions of whether she is stealing imagery.
Pak has stated, however, that if your work is in her archive you may request for it to be removed. Furthermore, he notes, “On this archive every image is linked to a Google reverse image search query where ‘similar images’ are returned with a high possibility of the actual creator, work or website being one of the first results.” All good and well Pak but honestly, most people won’t bother to follow through with these steps resulting in nameless creators.
As Archillect matures she has evolved and adapted to her audience and moved away from the tastes of Pak. Archillect has not been left entirely to run free as on occasion her algorithms are tweaked when she ventures into dangerous territory, as she has done before with keywords such as ‘abstract’ leading her to associated key words, from there ‘sphere’ to ‘round’ and then dived into ‘asses’. This caused a reset from her creator and a far more complex algorithm.
As was amusingly stated in a VICE article, her “ass-obsessed adolescence” has long since passed and since then she has become a well-known online curator. With 513,000 followers on Twitter, her popularity has resulted in an unexpected change in her behaviour. “Right now, the situation is, people are thinking that whatever Archillect shares, it must be good, so they retweet it. Before I made her, I made her to be a trend-getter, but right now she’s becoming a trend-setter!” Pak tells VICE. This makes it difficult for Archillect to conclude which of her posts are good as her curation is based on the popularity of her posts. Her creator is confident that she will be able to adapt to these new circumstances.
Archillect can be regarded as a digital muse as her following is an indication of how many social media users are enjoying her work. She is not human but her algorithm creates a human touch to her curation. Being identified as a female by her creator lends her a more relatable nature and another association to being human. Her data collection can perhaps be regarded as theft but is without malicious intent and there is the option to have images pulled from her archive. Archillect currently collects striking and sometimes haunting imagery that I believe is a reflection of the current state of mind that our generation is sharing as she posts according to audience engagement. Inspiring as her imagery may be, AI’s such as herself may, in the long run, become a threat to human curators.