2015-16_2 Conversations with Computers

In this project we will conduct code-based interactive experiments and construct visual narratives to speculate about intriguing new social situations, aesthetic experiences, psychological ramifications, as a result of people living increasingly computation dependent and electronically-mediated lives. In our investigations we will stray from a path which affirms clichéd applications of artificial intelligence and ‘smart’ technologies to instead envision how intelligent systems, environments, interfaces can beget new kinds of human-computer narratives that bring into play a more profoundly blurred distinction between psychological, physical and telematic boundaries. Imagining – and designing for – the strange and specific will allow us to explore ideas and possibilities that a more general approach would overlook. The intention is that the results will nonetheless be generalizable and useful; by articulating the issues and rationale involved in developing designs for idiosyncratic instances, we will be able to raise valuable new questions about the qualities of our computationally-dependent future.

To start with, working as a research group, we will survey various tools, technologies and concepts, old and new, from artificial intelligence and other related computer science fields. We will conduct simple human-computer, computer-computer and human-to-human-via-computer interaction and conversation experiments using freely available software in exploratory, playful ways. The idea is to use this technology- centered research and experimentation to inspire the context, narrative, character of the projects each of you will create.

Your final deliverable for this project will be a 2-5 minute film which portrays a thought- provoking instance of human-computer interaction – a ‘conversation’, or part of a conversation – between an individual or individuals, and an intelligent system. (We’ll give you more guidance about this, and show lots of inspiration material at the beginning of the 2nd week of the project.)

Faculty: Ben Hooker, Rhazes Spell