The WinterMute project is about the idea of visualizing data or using it as the medium in the way that paint is used in a painting. This project was right up my alley, me being a technology nerd and very interested in big data. How algorithm’s are build up to mirror a personal profile. When is a program only a program and when starts it being something more than just data, when is there a ghost in the machine. I find these questions unmeasurably fascinating.
At the time of this project my grandmother was dying, and my father was having a really hard time coping with it. It was a very sad thing to see and I felt as if I had to do something for my father. To come up with a way or means that would ease his sadness.
So I decided to venture into the world of AI, artificial intelligence, and decided that making an AI of my grandmother would ease the sadness for my father. In that way he could still talk to her even when she died. Or maybe even better, this way she never had to die. Only physically.
With the presentation of my project I got many, many positive feedback. People that were actually touched in a personal way. It reminded them of their own grandparents of parents, the ambience of melancholy was very tangible. People started to reminisce and thanking me for this experience. I thought this was very nice feedback.
Ofcourse the AI was far from perfect. It still had many glitches for it being built in three days time, but even in such a small time frame it had the potential to evoke such strong emotions. This got me thinking and wondering why this wasn’t done more often?
While researching this question I found out there is this Polish company Replika. The company was born out of the desire to talk to a deceased loved one, just one more last time. Today Replika is a mobile device based AI that evolves the more you talk with it. So it doesn’t actually inject an existing person but you grow your own companion. Much like a sophisticated Tamagotchi.
I really like the idea of serious companies dealing with these subjects, it shows me that I am on the right path and that the questions I am dealing with are relevant to today’s society.
Want to try out WinterMute?
Click on ‘select Bot’ and select Wintermute.