Traversing the latent Space. How AI Powers the Heart of Melbourne Connect – Zaher Joukhadar, University of Melbourne

Session Outline

Melbourne Connect is Melbourne’s new innovation precinct, built in 2021 and located at the heart of The University of Melbourne campus. It is set to drive social and economic transformation and create a progressive future for the University of Melbourne, its students, and the broader community.

At the heart of Melbourne Connect, we created a digital smart artwork piece called The Heart. The Heart visualizes what the building is ‘feeling’ through its thousands of live data-gathering sensors, and it will beat for the duration of the building’s life – at least 42 years until the end of the current lease. Its pulse is extrapolated using Machine Learning from the sensations of its body (its rooms, corridors, and hallways): the “smartest” building in Melbourne. The artwork reveals building functions that are normally hidden ‘offstage’ to bring to mind the volume of data and work supporting the life and optimal functioning of the University community. The pulse and the visualizations of Melbourne Connect Heart are derived using Artificial Intelligence methods from Building Management System data combined with electricity generation (solar and geothermal), external temperature and wind direction, zoned data and power usage, human movement, and behaviour.

Key Takeaways:

  • AI is the new meeting place between Art and Science
  • There is great potential for AI methods to make a great enriching impact on the Arts, and we are still at the beginning of that
  • It is not a one-way relationship; Art and creativity can be used to inform the decisions made when designing AI solutions, for example, digital ethics, public perception, etc.
  • Visualizing ‘learned latent space’ the output of AI methods and algorithms and putting it out there in public for people will invoke great new ideas and collaborations
  • Using AI as a tool in Art opens great new insights and helps push the boundaries of both science and art

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