I/O

5yolo

I/O is my prestige project of the first half of 2018. It is based on WraithMachine by the Italian musician Datacode, it tells the story of an AI that gains consciousness by accident and it feels like it is trapped inside the machine.

I thought that was a really cool concept. Especially the fact that the AI gains consciousness by accident. Almost as a fragile being it is hurled into a world it doesn’t understand and feels very threatened by it.

My initial idea was to build a videowall that would tell the same story only rendered through my world of ideas. But that didn’t feel as if it to be adequate enough. I wanted to make a more immersive and personal work . I wanted people to interact with an AI on a personal level but that wouldn’t be plagued by clichés. The AI doesn’t really need a name or a body. I wanted to focus primarily on the interaction.

But of course, everything that has a ghost must have a body as well, if that body is carbon based or not, isn’t important. So, inspired by the WraithMachine and started thinking. What would an AI look like if it would be born by accident. It would not have a nice shiny robot body, it would pretty much be denied a body, be denied a face and voice as well. So, what then is the window we use to look into our machines. The screen.

For us, the computer screen is the visualisation of what is going on inside the machine. And I thought this would be the perfect body for my AI. An AI would most likely use the screen as well in it’s way of communicating with us. But then again, only visual feedback is pretty boring, and how will the human interact with it, by keyboard or mouse? That feels rather rudimentary, I am aiming for a personal connection almost a spiritual connection between man and machine.

So what is the spirit. Many debates are still going on if there even is such a thing as a spirit, a soul or a ghost; a consciousness. But most of us would concur that if we have such a thing, it would reside in the brain. Through EEG technology we are capable of measuring brain waves, through the data that is being extracted from this technology we can interact with our brains. It has proven possible to operate machines or make drawings directly with the input from our brain.

I figured, there is no more direct way to communicate with something than with our brains. No mouth or bodies that get in the way, just surfing the pure waves of our brains.

WinterMute

WinterMutePosterwintermutecollage

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?

https://www.cleverscript.com/bots/chat/?#chat

Click on ‘select Bot’ and select Wintermute.

Username: Daveysmamd
Password: BIScm441WrYm