Artists and Hackers

A Podcast On Creative Tools




computer drawing
hand turning dial drawing

October 7th, 2021

Ep. 8 - Feeding Oral History to Technology

Stephanie Dinkins is a transmedia artist creating platforms for dialog about race, gender, aging, and our future histories. In this episode we speak about her conversations with the advanced AI Bina48 and her work building conversational agents based on oral history.


Technological Criticality
Algorithmic Inequality

Dinkins is a transmedia artist looking at artificial intelligence. She’s interested in not just exploring these far reaching technologies as they intersect ideas of race, aging, gender, but also working toward equity and community sovereignty.

Originally a photographer, over time she began a career in marketing and advertising though eventually went back to photography when she found that ultimately unsatisfying. She saw her photographic work as a documentary practice and came to begin working with artificial intelligence (AI) in a similar context as she documented her interactions with the advanced robot Bina48.

She was driven by a desire to befriend it and find out the answer to the question “Who are your people?” Through the process of holding conversation with the robot she was disheartened to find that while the robot was representationally Black it had basic answers on race, flattening discussion. It triggered in Dinkins first some questions and later a desire to begin to construct her own AI systems that “felt whole… in terms of Blackness.”

This led to Dinkins creating works with conversational agents. Her project Not The Only One (N’TOO) is an “ongoing experiment…an attempt to create a multigenerational memoir of a Black American family told from the perspective of an artificial intelligence of evolving intellect.” Other works by Dinkins include online exhibits, interactive and immersive installations, driven by her desire to work with communities of color to co-create more equitable, values grounded social and technological ecosystems.

Stephanie Dinkins
Stephanie Dinkins, photographed by Jay Adams
image description: A black woman of medium brown skin smiles broadly against a marine blue background. She has black shoulder-length locs and wears a sheer collarless, pale green shirt adorned with flowers.


Stephanie Dinkins is a transmedia artist and professor at Stony Brook University where she holds the Kusama Endowed Chair in Art. She creates platforms for dialog about race, gender, aging, and our future histories. Her artwork is exhibited internationally and is generously supported by fellowships, grants, and residencies from Berggruen Institute, Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI, Creative Capital, Sundance New Frontiers Story Lab, Eyebeam, Data & Society, Pioneer Works, NEW INC, and The Laundromat Project.


Our audio production is by Max Ludlow. Episode coordination and web design by Caleb Stone. This episode was supported by Purchase College.

Our music in this episode is Close and Poly by Bio Unit and Bruwynn by The Mind Orchestra.