Over a period of one year, I continuously tracked the GPS location of ~1000 anonymous volunteers in NYC, at all times, via a custom app they installed on their phones. I used these data to train an artificial intelligence algorithm similar to what is used for self-driving cars, realistic computer voices, predictive policing, and myriad other emerging applications. The algorithm was subsequently able to generate a new path around NYC that synthesized the daily behaviors of all of the volunteers.
In the spirit of Vito Acconci’s Following Piece or Sophie Calle’s Suite Vénitienne, I then followed the AI through the city for one week, using an app to see the path unfold in realtime on my phone. I documented the daily life I encountered by taking photographs (with my phone) and by writing in a journal.
The intelligence of AI is not spontaneous, but enculturated. It is uncanny not because it acts as if it were human, but because it is humans. AI is an ensemble of embodied experiences. These may be subsumed into the whole, but the whole is a trace of its parts. A dataset of movement around the city means that trace is literal. By following it, I experience something neither abstract nor neutral, but a repetition, with my specifically embodied difference, of what came before.