ESR 10 Blog January/February 2023: Anna Fech

Pic_Anna Fech 600

Am I going to be replaced soon by AI?


During my economy studies, I remember learning about the ‘homo economicus’, which is a model concept in macroeconomics. It assumes that the human actor in the models can access all information at any given time. Thus when taking a decision, homo economicus always choses the best option. In real life however, as emotional beings, we make decisions based sometimes on irrational reasons, or as a result of not having access to all necessary information to be able to choose the best possible option. For 1.5 years I have been overthinking my PhD topic on socially engaged art and digital network culture within the post-communist context.

I caught myself wondering whether an AI program, that has access to all information on the internet, could do a better job, and whether we as researchers could soon be replaced by AI.


I tried out the recently hyped Chatbot ‘Chat GPT’ developed by OpenAI. The abbreviation stands for ‘Generative Pre-training Transformer’ which is programmed to generate human-like texts by processing texts and generating answers. Thus, as a user you can have an interesting conversation on any subject that comes to your mind with this AI application. Apparently, it can even generate poetry or write a screenplay within seconds.


While I was very impressed by the clarity of the answers, which at first glance even seem to be very convincing, a second look revealed the gaps of the application, such as a missing declaration of critical perspective and reference to the sources/authors/theories the statements are based on (copyright). The main problem is that the complexity of the topic is undermined in favor of ‘consistent’ argumentation. It seems that we as researchers can breathe a sigh of relief and do not need to worry about our existence, at least not in the near future. Now I’m not going to withhold my conversation with GPT AI and you may read what it had to say about my research questions:


ANNA FECH: To what extent does the digital space play a role for socially engaged art?


AI: The digital space plays a significant role in socially engaged art as it provides new opportunities for audience engagement, distribution, and collaboration. The use of digital technology has expanded the reach of socially engaged art, allowing for greater audience participation and the creation of virtual communities around a given project. The digital space has also made it possible for artists to reach new and diverse audiences and to create work that addresses complex social and political issues in innovative ways.

Additionally, the digital space provides opportunities for artists to challenge traditional power structures and to critique dominant ideologies and perspectives. By using digital networks to facilitate collaboration and dialogue, socially engaged artists can create new forms of collective action and social engagement that challenge the status quo.

In conclusion, the digital space has had a profound impact on the development and potential of socially engaged art, providing new opportunities for audience engagement and creative expression, and allowing artists to address critical social and political issues in innovative ways.


What are the risks for socially engaged artists who use social media and the internet for their activism?


Socially engaged artists who use social media and the internet for their activism may face several dangers, including:

  1. Online harassment: Social media platforms can be a hostile environment where users may face harassment, threats, or hate speech. Socially engaged artists who express controversial views or challenge dominant power structures may be particularly vulnerable to online harassment.
  2. Censorship and surveillance: Social media platforms and internet service providers may monitor and censor content that they deem to be inappropriate or offensive. This can limit the reach of socially engaged artists’ work and may put them at risk of being targeted by state or corporate surveillance.
  3. Misinformation and disinformation: The internet and social media can be a breeding ground for misinformation and disinformation, which can undermine the credibility and effectiveness of socially engaged artists’ work.
  4. Burnout and exhaustion: Socially engaged artists may face a significant amount of pressure and emotional labor as they engage with difficult and complex social issues. The demands of creating and promoting work online can exacerbate these pressures and lead to burnout and exhaustion.

In conclusion, socially engaged artists who use social media and the internet for their activism may face a range of dangers, including online harassment, censorship, misinformation, and burnout. It is important for socially engaged artists to be aware of these risks and to take steps to mitigate them in order to ensure the safety and effectiveness of their work.




Do you think socially engaged art in the post-soviet context is a paradox?


It could be argued that socially engaged art in the post-Soviet context is a paradox because the Soviet regime suppressed individual expression and promoted socialist realism, which emphasized the depiction of socialist values and the glorification of the state. In this context, socially engaged art, which prioritizes audience participation and encourages critical reflection, would seem to run counter to the dominant cultural values of the Soviet era. However, the post-Soviet context has seen a shift towards greater artistic freedom and an openness to new forms of expression, and socially engaged art can be seen as a reflection of these changes and a means of engaging with the complex social and political issues facing post-Soviet societies.


Can socially engaged art act through digital networks without falling prey to ideological concepts?


Yes, it is possible for socially engaged art to act through digital networks without falling prey to ideological concepts. While digital networks and technology can perpetuate certain ideological perspectives and biases, it is also possible for artists to use these networks and technology in ways that are critical and conscious of these potential biases.

For example, a socially engaged artist may use digital networks to facilitate audience participation and collaboration while also incorporating critical commentary on the ways in which technology and digital networks shape our perceptions and understanding of the world. In this way, the artist can use digital networks as a tool for promoting social engagement and reflection, rather than as a means of perpetuating a particular ideology.

Ultimately, it depends on the intentions and perspectives of the artist and how they choose to use digital networks in their work.


AF: Thank you for this interesting conversation!


AI: You’re welcome! It was a pleasure to have this conversation with you. If you have any more questions in the future, feel free to ask. Have a great day!

Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.