At some stage we have to expect the machines to take control”

Alan Turing, Manchester, 1951


We constantly hear these days of the extraordinary progress of integration of AI into our lives, whether in the form of physically taking over our rather mundane jobs or, which is less apparent, the extraordinary rise and application of algorithms in the operating systems that seem to run our lives to such a great extent. Now we hear that the billionaire entrepreneur and inventor Elon Musk is currently developing a way of inserting microchips directly into our brains so we will be able to communicate directly with computer systems instead of tapping a keyboard, and I am quite sure he cannot be the only one doing work of this kind. Musk says humans must merge with machines otherwise they will become an irrelevance in the age of AI.

In Greek Mythology Talos was a giant bronze automaton man created by the god Hephaestus to guard Crete from unwelcome visitors and although a far cry from the sophisticated inventions of today, it is not completely farfetched to suggest he could be called the first robot.

In these paintings I have used the metals silver, white gold and 23 ct gold leaf together with verdigris on copper that seem to be insinuating into the very flesh of our bodies, perhaps representing the creeping direction of technology into our very being.

It does strike me as odd that we are looking to computers as a way forward in human evolution when we are only just beginning to discover what our brains are truly capable of without technological interference. I am not against the progress of technology at all but am wary of this new development and wonder where this brave new world will take us with its physical merging of man and machine. Perhaps we should be questioning what it is to be human and perhaps like Talos, ever vigilant on the shores of Crete, we should be constantly on our guard for invaders.

Pieces from the Exhibition

Talos II

Graphite, charcoal, ink and bronze pigment on canvas, 30ins square.



(Self) Portrait of a Hackable Animal

“(Self) Portrait of a Hackable Animal” Chinese Ink on paper, framed and with non-reflective glass 82.4 x 74.6cm.

I am apparently now a “hackable animal” according to Yuval Noah Harari. Speaking at a conference of the World Economic Forum in Davos recently, the writer, philosopher and professor of history talks about what the future of the planet will look like. “This will be decided by the people who own the data.” Harari says, “Data is so important, especially biometric data, because we have reached the point where we can hack, not just computers, we can hack human beings and other organisms. Control of data might enable human elites to do something even more radical than just build digital dictatorships. By hacking organisms elites may gain the power to re-engineer the future of life itself. Because once you can hack something you can usually also engineer it.

“The whole idea of humans have this soul, this spirit, and freewill, that’s over. Freewill, that’s over. Today we have the technology to hack human beings on a massive scale. Everything is being digitalised. Everything is being monitored”.

If we blindly accept the future that Harari promises without question, we will be giving away the very thing that makes us human to the people who care the least about humanity itself.


The Death of Reason 2023

“Death of Reason 2023” Water-based pigments and pastel on paper. Framed with black painted wood and with non-reflective glass 68.5 x 56cm.

When Neitzsche wrote “death of reason”* in 1881 he was criticising the Church for its rigid stance in forbidding question or doubt in its teachings; even making doubt a sin. Blind faith, he argued, allows no room for debate and is the end of rational thinking and enquiry and, subsequently, freedom. Today, 142 years later it is no longer the Church asking for our unquestioning
compliance but the people responsible for the (completely unregulated) development of superhuman AI, and all the problems that creating machines that surpass our intelligence would bring.
Stuart Russell in his book “Human Compatible” makes the convincing case that how we choose to control AI is “possibly the most important question facing humanity”.
*Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak. Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality