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Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg's The Substitute

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Earth and Space Sciences +3 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

On March 19, 2018, the last male northern white rhino, Sudan, died, bringing his subspecies to the brink of extinction. As scientists work to resurrect the rhino through experimental and controversial biotechnologies, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg “brings back to life” a male northern white rhino using data generated by artificial intelligence to ask the question “what errors in reproduction may arise as we recreate life artificially?” As it habituates to its environment, the rhino’s form and sound toggle from pixelated to lifelike—reminding us that this rhino, coming to life without its natural context, is entirely artificial.

The Substitute, 2019

Cooper Hewitt Education Department

The Substitute

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Big Pixels

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg

Small Pixels

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg

Sudan

Dai Kurokawa/EPA, via Shutterstock, from NY Times

The Rhinoceros

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Cup and cover

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Educator Connection

Cooper Hewitt Education Department