Dubai: What if you were given the chance to talk to aliens? At Expo 2020 Dubai, the UK Pavilion wants you to string together a message that represents the human race for a hypothetical contact with the unknown.
The visitor experience is inspired by the late Stephen Hawking’s ‘Breakthrough Message’, an initiative co-signed by the legendary theoretical physicist and his colleagues in 2015.
The ‘Breakthrough Message’ was launched in the form of a global competition to collate digital messages representative of our world and our ways of living, should we encounter intelligent life forms at some point in time.
AI trained on 100 British poets
Situated in the Opportunity District, the UK Pavilion, designed by London-based artist Es Devlin OBE, takes the Hawking project to new heights with Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Devlin's extensive portfolio also includes Beyonce's 'The Formation World Tour' in 2016 and two Olympic ceremonies.
For her work with large-scale performative sculptures and light, the 49-year-old artist was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2015.
Visitors will watch the built-in poetry algorithm, appointed by global brand experience agency Avantgarde, shape their words into verse.
Trained on thousands of poems penned by more than 100 British poets, the AI is programmed to churn out couplets, two rhyming lines of poetry, using each visitor’s contribution.
Donating a word for humanity
As you enter from the back of the pavilion, you will be invited to donate a word to the pavilion’s AI.
Ideally, the word would be your interpretation of what symbolises our existence in the universe.
Once this is done, the AI will work its magic while you complete your immersive tour. On your way out, the pavilion’s front facade will broadcast the ever-changing collective message that you helped create in bright LED lights.
Our message to aliens
We’ve actually mastered the remarkable feat of sending messages into deep space, though we are yet to receive a response.
In 1972 and 1973, twin spacecraft Pioneer 10 and 11 carried identical metal plaques, on which the location of our solar system was engraved along with a drawing of an adult woman and man.
Not long after, in 1977, NASA approved of another similar initiative with its Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft, carrying plaques called the Golden Record. Far more detailed than its predecessor, the record contains images, music and multilingual greetings for prospective extraterrestrial life forms.
The UK Pavilion offers a glimpse of all the exciting opportunities open to the human race with artifical intelligence at Expo 2020 Dubai.
- The writer is an intern with Gulf News.