Centre for Applied Research of the Faculty on Digital Media & Creative Industries

Quantum Cat


Artwork using Quantum computing and Artificial Intelligence.

This art installation depicts a "Quantum Cat. The cat is in a speculative state of ethical superposition. Using AI and quantum computing, he reflects on some of the most important and polarized ethical issues of our time, AI, but always doing so from all perspectives at once. An eternal doubt or acceptance of difference in which they continue to put forward all existing opinions....

Quantum Cats are digital creatures created from social media data transformed with quantum computing data.Measurements of the states of electrons in a quantum computer lead to a random data stream, which determines the movements and variation in views presented by the cats.

This is based on a phenomenon called superposition, in which the state or position of an electron is indeterminate until measurements are made on it.The electron then assumes an unpredictable final state or position. Quantum computers use this principle to provide the purest, most unpredictable random numbers that exist. This is also used in artwork. This is in contrast to traditional computers (which can only approximate randomness).

The topics the cats reflect on are triggered by a system that tracks Dutch online Twitter discussions. For example, when freedom of speech is discussed in the Twitter sphere, the cats are likely to offer ethical reflections on it. Or tweets about the economy may provoke reflections on the choice between economics and the environment.

The actual texts put forward by the cats were written by an AI system (GPT-3).No human wrote them, and they are not meant to reflect the opinions of human creators of the artwork. A custom methodology was developed for the project, with AI posing as a cat-shaped reincarnation of Socrates, to create the slightly philosophical, texts.

A real-time generative system merges everything into the final animation of the cat, which occasionally responds to the presence of onlookers. This is made possible by a camera system that detects changes in the artwork's environment. Care has been taken to ensure that there is no camera image data, that the system in no way implements facial or body recognition techniques, and uses only coarse, low-resolution camera input.

With the artwork, artist Jeroen van der Most hopes to inspire students and researchers to think about the rapidly developing fields of quantum computing and AI and to consider whether computer systems might one day be able to make ethical decisions...

Kittens of quantum ethics is an art installation by artist Jeroen van der Most, built during a fellowship at Responsible IT lectorate of the HvA.

Full project credits:

Artist: Jeroen van der Most

Project leader: Nanda Piersma

Project sparring partner: Yuri Westplat

Twitter monitoring system: Maarten Groen

Quantum data: Marten Teitsma and Quantum Inspire

AI-based creation of cat texts: Gabrielle Breed

Ethics liaison: Hans de Zwart

Technical and on-site coordination: Arjan Koning

Valuable feedback and input: The entire HvA Responsible IT team

Subsidized by: CoECI Centre of Expertise Creative Industries.

Published by  Centre for Applied Research FDMCI 14 November 2023

Project Info

Start date 01 Sep 2021
End date 31 Dec 2022


Jeroen van der Most