Artist Noah McLaurine.
Black boxes have existed for as long as humans have. From the very first black box, that of Pandora, who unknowingly brought this concept into the world, to artificial neural networks, massive conglomerations of algorithms that function together to learn skills and solve problems on their own, from technical creations to social theories to celestial bodies, black boxes are the lattice on which contemporary society is woven.
However, their production, their output, is pre-programmed: a camera can only produce what it was created to make, a neural network can only “think” about what it is given, the big bang can only expand outward. Black boxes are inherently constrained objects. The more we use them, the more we advance, yet the more we advance the less we are able to understand. The less we understand, the more we are at the mercy of these seemingly essential constructions. Only by prying open the boxes can we hope to wrestle back any sense of freedom. Only by prying open the boxes — an feat made possible through imagination — can we hope to wrestle back any sense of freedom. At the very least, we will have broken some very expensive things.