Note — Aug 23, 2020

The Uncanniness of Algorithmic Style

Seen in → No.138

Source →

A newsletter issue by Chayka, on the new Microsoft Flight Simulator, Farhad Manjoo’s column, and some of the uncanny aesthetics of algorithms.

An automated, unchecked process is warping the (virtual) world around us, leading to these weird errors and aberrations. Bergen isn’t some post-apocalyptic semi-underground Hong Kong, but that’s how the data was interpreted. The glitches are the kind of algorithmic sensibility that Manjoo is describing. […]

These tools aren’t bad, exactly, but they are uncanny, because what they do is extend a set of rules or a pattern that began as aesthetically pleasing or interesting over too large an area, too wide a swath of culture. The visuals are the equivalent of AI-generated writing: It might look okay at first but it’s ultimately nonsensical and could be destructive in the wrong context.