Researchers, engineers, designers, and museum curators gathered at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City to discuss how artificial intelligence (AI) can power stronger relationships between people and art. The focal point of the event came when a sequence of AI prototypes and design concepts were revealed across The Met, MIT, and Microsoft.
MIT initially partnered with Loic Tallon, the chief digital officer at The Met. Tallon joined the collaboration as a way to provide global access to the collections in the museum through digital media. “We’re continuing to think differently about how a museum works, in this case how we leverage powerful technologies such as artificial intelligence. This collaboration among The Met, with our collection expertise, MIT with all these creative technologists and their incredible thinking about meeting tough challenges, and Microsoft with its AI platform has incredible synergy,” Tallon says.
In December 2018, curators from The Met, MIT students, and expert technologists from Microsoft joined together for a hackathon at Microsoft’s New England Research and Development Center. The projects focus on topics including:
Artwork of the Day: The Met will utilize Microsoft AI to analyze open data sets such as location, news, weather, and historical data that will impact users.
Tag, That’s It: The project hopes to enrich The Met collection with the global Wiki community by using crowdsourcing to fine-tune subject keyword results generated by an AI model that adds keywords from The Met’s archive into Wikidata and uses Microsoft AI to generate accurate keywords.
Storyteller: Constructed with aid from MIT faculty Azra Akšamija and Lara Baladi, the project utilizes Microsoft voice recognition AI to choose artwork in The Met collection that illustrates a story of conversation.
My Life, My Met: My life, My Met sets to analyze posts from Instagram using Microsoft AI that will then substitute an image with the closest matching Open Access artworks from The Met collection.
Gen Studio: Authorized by Microsoft AI, the project enables anyone to visually and creatively navigate shared features and dimensions underlying The Met’s Open Access collection.
SJ Klein of MIT’s Knowledge Futures Group, sees the collaboration as a wonderful blend of technology and people. Klein says, “We’re exploring how people can find new meaning and develop an understanding of the world through large-scale collaborations with these increasingly iterative cycles of people and interpreting machines and networks all trying to make sense of the space.”
The role of AI in this project is to enhance the openness of The Met’s collection, giving audiences additional engagement and resonating with a much larger group of individuals.
Ryan Gaspar, director of strategic partnerships at Microsoft’s Brand Studio, says, “We take a very optimistic view around how AI can actually drive empathy, foster connections, and productivity, as well as support progress for society, humanity, and business. This collaboration is important for us to show the power and tangibility of what AI can do.”