Donkey Kong's Legacy
About Microprocessors as Model Organisms and the Behavioral Politics of Video Games in AI
The article discusses forms of contamination between human and artificial intelligence in computational neuroscience and machine learning research. I begin with a deep dive into an experiment with the legacy microprocessor MOS 6502, conducted by two engineers working in computational neuroscience, to explain why and how machine learning algorithms are increasingly employed to simulate human cognition and behavior. Through the strategic use of the microprocessor as “model organism” and references to biological and psychological lab research, the authors draw attention to speculative research in machine learning, where arcade video games designed in the 1980s provide test beds for artificial intelligences under development. I elaborate on the politics of these test beds and suggest alternative avenues for machine learning research to avoid that artificial intelligence merely reproduces settler-colonialist politics in silico.