AI Dialogues & the Gaps in Identity


“Welcome. Please answer the question, you will then have access to the database. Feel free to touch and move the screen to reveal what others have questioned before you.”


The curated algorithms that govern what we see online constantly adapt from our decisions. However, we can fail to realize that this dynamic influences our self-perception and actions; the framing of content can limit how we perceive the bigger picture. What are the gaps in an algorithm’s construction of your identity, and how would it create a more holistic picture of you? What are the collective identities of a community an algorithm uses to fill in the gaps?

Project Brief

Where are the humans in Artificial Intelligence? In this studio, we explored design, behavior, and people’s understanding, in physical, digital, and hybrid environments, with a specific focus on intelligence of different kinds, from social interaction to artificial intelligence. The course comprises practical projects and guest talks, focused on investigating, understanding, and materializing intelligence and other invisible and intangible qualitative phenomena and relationships, through new forms of probe, prototype, and speculative design.

Spring 2018
4 month long project

P5js, Projection and Mylar paper

This project was developed with guidance from Dan Lockton, Marisa Lu and Gautam Bose

Link to Process Blog

Concept 1.0

Questions that guided my project:

  • Where are the eyes in AI?
  • Could AI act as an emotional connection?
  • Can it give people control, empowerment?
  • Can AI learn a noise language, instead of just words?

Could you simulate aspects of human intelligence in simple ways? Technology can act hungry, wanting to consume light or data. It’s not even a computer, but can exhibit a form of consciousness. These technologies grow, adapt, and learn. They evolve, and their form embodies the intelligence they gather.

William Grey Walter’s Mechanical Tortoise

Our class met with Madeleine Elish and discussed the Human Infrastructures of AI. Here are my notes from the discussion.

Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest

We then discussed AI and Ethics with Professors David Danks and Emily LaRosa.

Clips from the show Neon Genesis Evangelion: The data visualizations are interfaces between human and machine

I want to veer away from emotional intelligence and focus more on exposing the relationship and dynamic between the person and the AI. There is still a limitation and disconnect of understanding between the inner workings of a human v. AI, and I think this will limit the communication and translation idea in concept 01. I may try and find a way to expose this limitation.

Concept 02

  • How does the interface and the AI fit into someone’s life? Would it ask you questions?
  • Something that’s continuously listening, knows all of your activity, has a “complete picture of you”. Is it a companion to you all the time?
  • How do people change their behavior because of AI?
  • Work out a case for this, in what situation? What would you plan to make or do?
  • What is the AI’s interface for the human? How is the hierarchy and dynamic, and would that be highlighting the AI or the human?
  • Does AI stereotype people and place them into categories? Does this enable people to become similar to their stereotype?
Human Interface
AI Interface

The AI Confessional

How much does technology understand your identity and your regrets? The AI is changing who you are as a person. The output isn’t important anymore, it’s dynamic and a symbol. Does it test what you believe or you reflect in a certain way, why do people even consider that? Is the relationship valid? Do you even want to notice, and when you do, then what happens? Different roles you embody

With identity and reflection, there is vulnerability. Ability and externalize and look into a situation. What do you give up to engage with this thing? Maybe it asks you a vulnerable question:

  • When’s the last time you looked in the mirror?
  • What’s the last text you sent?
  • How many questions have you asked today?
  • What are you worrying about right now?

<Insert concept sketches>

Facebook Targeted Advertising
Data Selfie, a platform to see how Facebook interprets your profile

I learned about the hidden community within Facebook Advertising, and how they use AI to fill in any unknown information about you. The content you see is influenced not only by what you click on, but also what content your “friends” engage with, no matter how much you use the platform.

What are the dialogues we have with AI?

How does AI influence our behavior? Artificial Intelligence changes its definition of who you are based on your interactions. However, we can fail to realize that this dynamic in-turn influences our self-perception and actions. The framing of content can limit how we perceive the bigger picture. What categories of your identity does an AI represent?

Does the AI take on the identity of you as a researcher, a mother or a woman?

Deliverable: I want to develop an interaction that can display this relationship.

  1. A person feels a desire to check in on their AI’s identity. This is enforced by showing how many people around you have gone through the process. This social pressure influences the initial decision to go through the process.
  2. In order to interact with AI, there is an exchange, and a moment of vulnerability. This dynamic also occurs in a confessional. A person must give up information about themselves in order to enter.
  3. A person can now enter the AI’s perspective and see what others have responded. From the inside, people can change the question that is asked.
  4. After seeing these responses, would a person change their answer?

I want to leave room for spelling errors and human nature.

Material Tests can be used to interconnect objects
Database / interface tests

I tested out different projectors, paper quality, and layering in order to figure out which materials created the illusive effects. The paper would become the interface people could touch, bend, and play with.

The html page, connected to Shiftr, would be projected onto the paper from both sides, emulating the communication between the person and AI. This AI would contain a database of information you could only access once you submit your answer to the machine. This exposes the hidden community behind the AI, and reveals how you may be persuaded to change your answer once viewing this greater context. The wall of answers creates a collective identity through vulnerable questions, a wall of vulnerabilities.

Data & Society’s Future Perfect Conference