Gallerist Pearl Lam And Google Veteran Suhair Khan Call For Less Western-Centric AI Model

Gallerist Pearl Lam and Google veteran Suhair Khan are calling for a less Western-centric model of AI as they discuss the impact of AI on culture and creativity.

Speaking in a new episode of The Pearl Lam Podcast, AI expert Suhair Khan and culture expert Pearl Lam advocate for a paradigm shift in the development of AI and emphasise the need for a less Western-centric approach. In ‘Artificial Intelligence Versus Humanity’, Pearl Lam and Suhair Khan seek to shed light on the intersection of AI and culture, exploring the nuanced relationship between technology and human expression.

In a conversation which underscores the importance of embracing cultural diversity to ensure that AI enriches human creativity and experiences rather than homogenising them; Suhair Khan, a Google veteran and founder of the Open-Ended AI lab, argues that as global demographics evolve, so too should our understanding and utilisation of AI. She says:

“We’re building AI around a very Western-centric model of philosophy. What does it mean to be successful? What is progress? What if we were to step outside of that and actually use AI as a new tool to add new windows and walls to the mind? What if we considered other perspectives from other cultures, other languages, and other sets of meanings?

“The demographics of the world are shifting to Africa, to Asia, to India. So if you’re not building in their insights, their experiences, their set of feelings about tomorrow and their values, then we definitely will have turned AI into something which is pushing us to go down a path which is very much narrow.”

Suhair is interviewed for the podcast by Pearl Lam, who is an expert in the world of contemporary art and culture and who also has a well-known commitment to challenging the dominance of Western precepts and promoting cross-cultural dialogues.

Pearl Lam is also the founder of eponymous galleries in Hong Kong and Shanghai that are recognised worldwide for their intellectual ambition and influence. Amongst its many achievements, Lam’s gallery has played a key role in challenging Western misconceptions surrounding Chinse abstract art in a series of ground-breaking exhibitions. Lam’s commitment to bridging cultural divides is further underscored by her leadership of The China Art Foundation, which she founded to build cultural bridges between East and West.

Commenting on the discussion in ‘Artificial Intelligence Versus Humanity’, Pearl Lam says:

“Not enough is said about the impact of AI on cultures or the impact that AI already exerts in cajoling the world into narrow tastes and preferences and ultimately into the homogeneity of everything being the same. Society talks a lot about the long-term impact of AI on humanity. But we need to talk more about its impact on culture right now”.

Suhair Khan says that while AI has primarily been geared towards enhancing efficiency and augmenting human capabilities, it has also inadvertently perpetuated biases and exclusions. She believes that technology companies need to broaden their perspectives and incorporate insights from more diverse demographics to ensure that AI is properly representative.

This view mirrors Pearl Lam’s own opinion on the implications of the influence of AI. She recently wrote for Forbes about how a lack of equal access to AI will likely aggravate existing cultural inequalities within the art market; a theme upon which she expands when talking to Suhair about the impact of AI on culture and creativity, saying:

“All our thinking will become completely Westernised because in China or in Asia or in Pakistan, they have not shared as much data (for AI), so what we’re learning, what we’re seeing from AI, will be completely Westernised.”

Addressing the risk of the homogenisation of creativity and creative preferences by AI, Suhair underscores the importance of defining creativity within a cultural context, saying:

“What is creativity? Creativity is feeling experience. Luck, spontaneity, good luck and bad luck. Creativity comes from all of the lived experiences that we all have which spur our own imagination. But I think it really depends on how we define creativity.”

First launched by Pearl Lam in late 2023, The Pearl Lam Podcast seeks to spotlight established and emerging voices who have shown an unwavering determination to follow their own convictions – no matter what. Each episode sets out to inspire, educate and disrupt conventional ways of thinking, with a talented cast of international guests drawn from the worlds of culture, art, design, food, film, fashion, music and technology.

The Pearl Lam Podcast is available as videos on YouTube and in audio format on Spotify, Apple, and Amazon Music.