Robots: Dopamine detox: why TikTok’s machine learning algorithm may kill us
December 17, 2022 § Leave a comment
As a student growing up, I always felt like I was just barely scraping by, and by that I don’t mean that I was struggling to pass my classes. In fact, I had historically always been among the top academic performers in my class. Despite my achievement, I struggled immensely with my executive functioning skills–think procrastination and lack of organization. I felt like I was constantly switching between living in two different worlds: 1) my physical reality, home to the normal, smart Ben, and 2) my meandering day dreams, where the constantly chaotic and frustrated version of myself lived. My teachers noticed my fluctuating mind as well, explaining to my parents that while they were impressed with my work, they remained disappointed that I constantly failed to reach my potential. Every time my parents returned from their conferences with my teachers, they always relayed the same notion. While I was a successful student by objective standards, I was a failure by the standards of my own. Over the years, the repetition of this double-edged compliment caused me to slowly resent myself more and more, labeling myself a lazy failure, wasting my potential at no fault other than my own. It wasn’t until the summer following my senior year of high school that I finally stopped beating myself up and ultimately forgave myself. After visiting a psychiatrist for the first time in my life, I learned that my problems in school were not a product of laziness at all, and that the success I actually did manage to achieve was actually something of which to be proud. Upon receiving my ADHD diagnosis, my struggles were immediately contextualized and remedied. Though prescribed the appropriate medication and academic accommodations, I was still left questioning why my brain chemistry wasn’t neurotypical. Was I born with these differences, or were they instead a product of environmental stimuli? While I can’t answer this question in complete confidence as it pertains to my personal experience with ADHD, I suspect that it is more likely due to nurture than nature. This hypothesis is supported by data aggregated by the CDC (2022) from five credible surveys, all demonstrating a steady annual rise in reported ADHD diagnoses; it would only make sense that some external, developing stimul(us/i) were responsible for this increase. Furthermore, if ADHD were to be attributed to genetics rather than lived experiences, wouldn’t these results remain constant over time, at least within the relatively short period of data collection?
Percent of children with a reported ADHD diagnosis (1997-2018)
One potential influence for this upward trend is the notion that the ever-increasing prevalence of technology is at fault for our conversely ever decreasing attention spans. Social media platform TikTok, for example, has contributed to this epidemic by way of two factors: the app’s short video length cutoff, as well as a machine learning-backed algorithm that delivers content that is specifically curated to users’ niche interests.The short form nature of TikTok videos triggers frequent, short-lived bursts of dopamine, the hormone responsible for pleasure (Sudhakar, 2022). As is the case with many chemical substances, certain levels of dopamine can be quite productive, contributing to one’s sustained attention span, as well as their senses of motivation and accomplishment. This can be achieved by participating in mentally stimulating activities like reading books or exercising. However, sources of dopamine that require little effort to obtain such as drug use and pornography consumption, or in the case of TikTok, consuming a large quantity of unique posts in a short span of time, have been proven to cause a decrease in baseline dopamine levels, enticing users to consume even more content to replenish their new dependency. Dopamine drops can lead to attention deficits, lessened motivation, depression, and can ultimately fuel addictions. Compared to the format of TikTok content, I believe that the app’s machine learning component poses a far greater risk for attention deficit problems among users. In order to test this hypothesis, researchers conducted a study in which their subjects were assigned to one of two possible algorithm conditions (Su et al., 2021). Half of the participants were given phones with brand new TikTok accounts, meaning that their content feeds initially consisted of default, generalized content free of any preferential influence. The other group of subjects were asked to log into their personal accounts so that their feed would consist of niche videos specific to their interests. Both groups were instructed to peruse their feeds for 6 one-minute intervals, taking thirty-second breaks intermittently. While this occurred, the subjects underwent functional MRI scanning in order to compare activity levels in different parts of the brain.
The researchers found that those in the personalized video (PV) condition experienced significantly more activity in their prefrontal cortex than those in the generalized video (GV) condition. Because the prefrontal cortex is primarily responsible for cognitive control functioning, which is modulated by dopamine, the researchers concluded that TikTok’s machine learning algorithm is heavily associated with users’ decline in attention span and the promotion of addictive behaviors, due to users’ greater interest in videos specifically tailored to their tastes. What is most concerning about these findings lies in the compounding of both TikTok’s short-form style and the nature of its ever-curating algorithm. As users scroll through more and more videos, the algorithm constantly becomes increasingly aware of their niche content preferences, causing their likelihood of continuing to scroll to increase. Essentially, as users become more addicted to the app, their ability to perform cognitive control functions will plummet at the same rate.
Charli D’Amelio, #2 most followed TikTok influencer. She is primarily known for her dance routines.
While these findings are concerning in the present, I am even more worried about the future of the human race’s relationship with artificial intelligence. I may be going out on a limb when I say this, but as machine learning continues to advance, I fear that humans will continue to decline in our ability to stay productive and focused, necessitating constant stimulation to live, and that in the long term our extreme dysfunction may catalyze our eventual demise as a species.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, August 9). ADHD throughout the years. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/timeline.html
Dopamine: What it is, Function & Symptoms. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22581-dopamine#:~:text=Dopamine%20is%20a%20type%20of%20neurotransmitter%20and%20hormone.,and%20pleasurable%20reward%20and%20motivation.
Su, C., Zhou, H., Gong, L., Teng, B., Geng, F., & Hu, Y. (2021). Viewing personalized video clips recommended by TikTok activates default mode network and ventral tegmental area. NeuroImage, 237. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.118136
Robots: A.I. is disrupting the restaurant industry; is it worth displacing workers for the sake of profitability?
December 17, 2022 § Leave a comment
In the world of business, efficiency has been and always will be king. In 1794, Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin mechanized an industry once dominated by manual labor. Similarly, the 19th century saw the once-novel concept of the assembly line become increasingly popular during the first Industrial Revolution. More recently, Nike’s ongoing controversy surrounding their contracts in countries with highly unregulated labor laws has allowed them to pay inadequate wages, subject workers to inhumane conditions, and even employ young children, at a fraction of the cost compared to if they were to manufacture their products domestically. No matter the time, it is clear that there will always be those who are constantly striving to increase their output while minimizing their input, sometimes even dismissing the importance of ethics.
In the context of the modern era, we see the hunt for increased efficiency continuing with the implementation of autonomization in a variety of industries. In general, it is estimated that between 2021 and 2028, the global market for artificial intelligence will increase by 40% on a yearly basis (McShane, 2022). For example, 61% of telecommunications providers are set to introduce A.I. to edge computing by 2023 (Press, 2020). Furthermore, in industries whose workers are primarily responsible for simple, repetitive tasks, an estimated 45% of these jobs will be fully automated (Press, 2020).
One sector exhibiting these characteristics that comes to mind is the restaurant industry. With the current labor shortage still at large, approximately 70% of restaurant owners report being understaffed (Sink, 2022). One identified solution has been the integration of autonomous machines that can perform the same jobs as those categorized as unskilled workers. For example, THAT Burger Spot!, a Georgia-based burger and chicken wings chain, nearly saw their business crumble at the hands of the labor shortage (Sheng, 2022).
Inside of a THAT Burger Spot! location
Their solution? Automate their ordering system. To do so, they consulted Grubbrr, a company that produces robotic kiosks that can handle both in-person and online orders autonomously. Not only did this solve their hiring problem, but it actually resulted in a 70% increase in sales, on top of mitigating the need to pay additional wages in the case that the labor shortage eventually subsides.
In addition to the implementation of ordering machines, there has also been a recent push to utilize artificial intelligence in the restaurant industry. Chipotle, for example, is working with Miso Robotics, a California based tech firm, to integrate Chippy, their A.I. backed food preparation robot, in a select few CA locations (Evans, 2022). So far, Chippy is only capable of handling tortilla chip preparation, though it would not be a surprise if it expanded its culinary repertoire to more advanced kitchen skills in the near future.
Miso Robotics’ artificially intelligent “Chippy” in a Chipotle kitchen
While certainly exciting, technology’s projected increasing involvement in the future of the culinary world also raises several concerns. Once the number of individuals seeking employment returns to its previous form, how will restaurants react? Will eateries prioritize the unmatched efficiency that comes with autonamization, or will they choose not to displace workers for the sake of profitability? Additionally, how will the customer experience change in the case that robots become the norm? While I believe that higher end establishments will continue to rely on the hospitality of humans, larger chain franchises will see a trend toward technology, ultimately resulting in the demise of the customer service experience as well as less job opportunities for “unskilled” individuals.
Evans, S. (2022, October 10). Robots, humans work together at Chipotle Restaurants. IoT World Today. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.iotworldtoday.com/2022/10/04/robots-humans-to-work-together-at-chipotle-restaurants/
McShane, R. (2022, January 19). How do businesses use artificial intelligence? Wharton Online. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://online.wharton.upenn.edu/blog/how-do-businesses-use-artificial-intelligence/#:~:text=Through%20the%20use%20of%20AI,to%20identify%20opportunities%20for%20improvement.
Press, G. (2020, December 29). 54 predictions about the state of data in 2021. Forbes. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/gilpress/2021/12/30/54-predictions-about-the-state-of-data-in-2021/?sh=709f5d5e397d
Sheng, E. (2022, March 21). Big Food Automation is making its way to Main Street’s menu. CNBC. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/20/big-food-automation-is-making-its-way-to-main-street-menus.html
Sink, V. (2022, February 1). National Restaurant Association releases 2022 state of the Restaurant Industry Report. National Restaurant Association. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://restaurant.org/research-and-media/media/press-releases/association-releases-2022-state-of-the-restaurant-industry-report/
Robots: What Makes Every Life Worth Living
December 17, 2022 § Leave a comment
Rebellion in the Wasteland – Convergent Evolution in Modern Science Fiction
Moore’s law is a pitiful predictor of society. Our technology has advanced in ways that far outstrip the theoretical two year doubling of transistors, thrusting us as a society ever further beyond the understanding of our moral obligations. The genre of Science Fiction literature is humanity’s great defense against such perilous acceleration. Authors take the burden that scientists once shouldered of informing the public conscience what our world may look like as a product of technologies we don’t yet understand. Science fiction has however dulled our senses, and after one too many predictions of flying cars and Orwellian surveillance that never came to pass, the prophets have once again become authors in the public eye. David Mitchell and Kazuo Ishiguro recognized the collapse in science fiction literature and both took up the mantle, creating works that define the genre of science fiction while refusing to be science fiction works. In Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, we find pieces of art that return to the animus of art, attempting to solve the most difficult questions in life. What gives worth to our lives? What defines human nature? What is an individual? These questions are central to the human condition regardless of genre or setting. Both authors demonstrate a disregard for linear narrative structure and any expectations placed on them by the genre of science fiction, as such it would only be right to evaluate their works in a similar fashion. Both authors revived and revolutionized the genre of science fiction while creating two of the most independently acclaimed books of the last thirty years. Beginning as they do with central questions, their stories answer as to their commonalities better than a compare and contrast structure. So in our pursuit of understanding their works, let us depart from a prosaic approach and ask ourselves the question of what makes life worth living?
Kazuo Ishiguro began his life in Nagasaki Japan in 1954 and moved to England when he was five years old. He was raised in a traditional Japanese family that for ten years expected to be returning to their homeland two years later. Kazuo attended a private highschool inundated with classical literature and upon graduation felt a desire to travel fueled by a sense of isolation and intrigue. He first spent a year in Canada hitchhiking across the country and falling in love with the human position while unsuccessfully marketing himself as a musician. After this year he attended the University of Kent in England and received his bachelors in English and Philosophy before once again seeking a life of intrigue. He worked for a time as a grouse beater, scaring up pheasants for aristocrats shoulder to shoulder with their hounds. He spent months in a soup kitchen distributing food to the homeless and realizing that he loved the idea of helping others much more than the action. Later he went on to get his masters and published his first novel at the age of 28, but he began writing the story of Never Let Me Go before he rose to fame. Originally the novel was about a group of young actresses working in 1950’s Broadway, later it was a conglomerate of short stories about the life of boarding school students. It wasn’t until much later that Ishiguro decided that any part of the book should include a sci-fi element, but that was what allowed him to piece the work together.
The story in Never Let Me Go is told in the first person by a character named Kathy. Initially it is a story about a normal woman reminiscing about her childhood and friends, set in 1990’s England, there is nothing immediately distant or strange about the story besides the interplay of donors and carers. From the outset the story reflects Ishiguro’s unwillingness to be a work of science fiction and rather be a story about humans. It is gradually revealed throughout the story that Kathy and her friends are clones destined to have their organs harvested for Britain’s elite. This gradual understanding mirrors for the reader what is experienced naturally during childhood, recognizing aspects of beauty in the world and gradually coming to understand the more painful aspects of it. While the reader experiences a sense of horror and insult at the idea of humans being violated in this way, this sentiment isn’t shared by the students. Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy all experience a dread of the inevitable death that awaits them but astonishingly don’t protest it. This begins to reveal the similarity between the characters and the reader, how often does a “normal” person try to escape the days they have been allotted? Why is a life expectancy of 80 years so much more reasonable than the 30 or 40 the clones receive? Witnessing Kathy struggle and suffer, seeing her muse and dance and fall in love and live just as if there was nothing absurd about the ending she was destined to face, elicits an undefiable empathy. When Kathy and Tommy confront Madame to declare their love and seek more time together it is the same ridiculous request every pair of lovers makes of death and is met with the same inevitable response. Nothing about the experience described in Never Let Me Go defines it as a work of science fiction, preferring to tell a story that mirrors exactly the common plight of humanity.
The most important answers Ishiguro gives come as a result of Kathy and Tommy confronting the natural born Madame that had controlled their childhood. When they were younger Madame had encouraged the children to perform and create art so that she could demonstrate to the world that they were truly human. When they confront Madame Tommy is incensed, “Why train us, encourage us, make us produce all of that? If we’re just going to give donations anyway, then die.” To which Madame responds, “Why Hailsham at all… It’s a good question for you to ask (pg 259).” It’s the same question everyone asks when confronted by the impermanence of life. Why learn and love and create when it’s all going to end anyways. Whatever beauty the children could create was taken to be observed by others. Even as children, their life as donors had already begun, relinquishing their art, the very essence of their humanity, to prove the presence of a soul. It is a few minutes later that Madame gives her response, “We thought it would reveal your souls. Or to put it more finely, we did it to prove you had souls at all (pg260).” A soul. A soul is a concept taken for granted and yet so ill defined. What deprives a clone of that thing natural humans are born with, what makes a human life worth living at all? There is no finish line in life, nor a life inherently worth living, and no life that does not end in tragedy. The point of Hailsham, the point of making art, the point of life are all the same. Art is better than absence, love is better than isolation. The children were deprived of so many things, mothers, stability, a future. Madame chose to fight for the students when she imagined a mother who had been barren but miraculously had a child and was singing to it “never let me go.” On recounting the story in the current conversation Madame imagines a different child clinging to her and pleading to never let the world of kindness be replaced by one of cruel efficiency. Every individual is that mother who was told that her life would not have meaning, that she would die alone. Each of us discovers that there is in fact purpose in fighting for what we love. In a world that has abandoned the concept of objective morality in favor of increased efficiency, only the absurd refutation of isolation preserves the soul.
David Mitchell was born in England into a temperament of continual discontent. As a child he was caught up endlessly in his own imagination, frustrated by the mundane ideas of his schoolmates. David attended a very average highschool in Worcestershire and viewed his position as unremarkable. He grew up writing but never expecting to be a writer, eventually attending the University of Kent and receiving a masters in English propelled solely by his love for literature. It was upon graduation that David moved for a year to Sicily before setting his sights on Japan. He moved to Hiroshima where he would teach English for eight years as he began his writing career on the side. During his time in Japan, when he was 28 years old, a publisher back in London flew David out to read at an event and furnished him with a luxury hotel room. It was at this point that David decided he might make it as an author, and it was worth it to try. Finding success after his first book was published at 30 years old, he read Italo Calvino’s work If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler… and instantly found inspiration. Calvino’s work told a story that ended right in the middle, leaving the reader without any sense of finality. Mitchell sought to structure a story of his own the same, but place a mirror in the middle that caused the story to finish nonetheless. Five years later, Cloud Atlas was published and found international success.
The story of Cloud Atlas begins with The Pacific Journey of Adam Ewing, a story modeled directly from the style of Herman Melville’s work in Moby Dick and Typee. This story tells the tale of an American lawyer who journeys to the Chatham islands and is confronted by the cruelty of slavery. Told in letter form the story continues until the narrative is cut short mid sentence and switches to Letters from Zedelghem. This is where the reader learns that the book is anything but a traditional one. Following the structure of a russian nesting doll, the book is told through a series of progressing stories that arrive at a center far in the future before traveling back to end again with the story of Adam Ewing. Each story is seemingly disconnected, told through different mediums with completely different styles of language, and no continuous plot. There are plenty of references throughout the book to previous sections, such as Sonmi-451 Watching The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish, but no other hint as to the point of the stories put in juxtaposition. The best hint as to the connection comes in the fifth story, An Orison of Somni-451 “Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, an’ tho’ a cloud’s shape nor hue nor size don’t stay the same, it’s still a cloud an’ so is a soul. Who can say where the cloud’s blowed from or who the soul’ll be ‘morrow? Only Sonmi the east an’ the west an’ the compass an’ the atlas, yay, only the atlas o’ clouds (pg 308).” Based on this quote the character implies that each story recounts a different reincarnation of a soul, behaving differently again and again as they reflect different parts of the human condition.
The idea of continuity becomes paradoxically central to the book with such incredibly different stories. The barrage of varied styles and worlds ranging from familiar to apocalyptic keeps the reader from grounding themselves and suspends different stories that all seem to arrive at the same conclusion, or at least ask the same questions. When interviewed after the release of the movie based on his book, Mitchell described that he thought two themes were formative throughout, “interconnectedness of cause and effect… and predacity.” Interconnectedness represents the-no-man-is-an-island principle by noting that each outcome is a result of behavior and outcomes affect behaviors of others. But interconnectedness also points to the idea that as distant as each of his stories seem from each other, they demonstrate that both ourselves and the stories we tell are reiterations of the same ideas. Predation is one of the main parts of those reiterations, dictating how power is distributed and understood, but more so characterizing how different entities of a story are dependent on each other. Adam Ewing aids a slave who in return saves Ewing from a predatory doctor. A group of university students help free Somni, and Somni helps to lead a revolution. The ending of the book chronologically occurs in the middle, sat around a post apocalyptic retelling of a tribal war, by a child holding the remnants of a story written in a language he can’t understand. That’s where every story in the book will end, with a culture of cannibalistic tribes and people that can’t grasp the society that preceded them. In this way every story seems already concluded. As we keep reading however, a Dickens-esque cascade of resolution begins to occur as each story comes to its own conclusion. Some stories end tragically and others with success, until ultimately we return to the tale of Adam Ewing. It is there, in the past, in the story least characterized by science fiction that Mitchell gives his last answer. Each and every one of us stands at the brink of absurdity with assurance of ultimate ruin and are forced to choose. As Adam Ewing recovers from his journey and looks forward to his life he sees the futility of rebellion, the absurdity of thinking he can change not just the laws but the heart of a nation. In this discourse with himself he asks, “What precipitates outcomes? Vicious acts and virtuous acts. What precipitates acts? Belief. Belief is both prize and battlefield (pg 507).” Ewing decides that he lives in a world of predation, a world ultimately destined to destroy itself, but that will not cause him to prey on his fellow man. In a response that takes Platonic ideals and applies them directly to post enlightenment circumstance, Ewing decides that virtuous acts are of themself a virtue and better than vicious ones. Ewing decides that in the face of violence, in the promise of banality, in the heart of darkness, still it is better to choose love, for what is any man but a multitude of choices, what is any nation but a multitude of men, “what is any ocean but a multitude of drops (pg 509).”
Born in Japan and raised in England on classical literature. Born in England and found his voice in a Japanese city. Both fed on the shadows of the greatest desolation known to human history in the two cities where the bombs were dropped. Ishiguro and Mitchell, Kazuo and David, were both keenly aware of the world in which they now lived. There are no flying cars, but there are bombs that can level cities. There are no journeys to the center of the earth, but there are more incarcerated individuals than at any point in history. There are no bases on the moon, but there are still children in factories. It is this actual present that caused both Ishiguro and Mitchell to pause and change the face of science fiction. As Ishiguro says of his own work “When I am writing fiction, I don’t think in terms of genre at all. I write a completely different way. It starts with ideas.” Both he and Mitchell began with some of those same ideas, something vague about the interconnectedness of cause and effect, something about the great void that lies before every whisper of tomorrow.
Approaching from opposite directions, both authors refute the world in favor of the connected individual. Ishiguro describes a world in which a woman finds love, reminisces over her loss, and completes with a somber smile. Mitchell tells a story of nations and worlds, a story that is thousand thousand stories, but a story that returns to the choices of one man to do good to those around him. Approaching from the cacophonous multitude, or the doomed and isolated single entity, both distill to the same answer. Absurd as it is to look for meaning in a world so seemingly bereft of it, meaning is found in choosing to love. The greek word atomos refers to the indivisible unit of matter first theorized by Democritus. That idea of an indivisible unit of matter would be considered absurd by science up until the 19th century. The view that Ishiguro and Mitchell share about the nature of life is one in which our actions are the atomos of history itself.
The choice of one man to work in a soup kitchen and another to stay a night in a hotel for a book signing led to millions of people encountering a revolutionized perspective. The stories we create and the stories we live constitute our lives and the lives of those we will never encounter. These truths are universal and self evident, from 1800’s San Francisco, to 1990’s England, to untold and unseen futures as cruel or bright as may be devised, it is as Dostoevsky said in The Idiot, “Beauty will save the World.” It is the art of authorship that transports us. Art creates empathy for that which we have never experienced, this is exactly how Mitchell and Ishiguro have made science fiction works, rather works for the human condition. So in answering the question with which we began, what makes life worth living? To live as a donor of self, shedding art like organs, fragrant fragments of our souls taken up by those around us. To recognize the predation of the world and simultaneously to see its interwoven fabric, noting that each self and story contains a multitude we devise. It is perhaps best recounted at the end of T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland,
“Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
Shantih shantih shantih.”
Be self-controlled. Be charitable. Be compassionate.
Peace peace peace.
Mcarthy, Erin.”9 Fascinating Facts About Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go'”. 2022. Mental Floss. https://www.mentalfloss.com/posts/never-let-me-go-kazuo-ishiguro-book-facts.
Ishiguro, Kazuo. 2010. Never Let Me Go. London, England: Faber & Faber.
Mitchell, David. 2004. Cloud Atlas. London, England: Sceptre.
Roadshow Films. 2013.Cloud Atlas (2013) David Mitchell Interview. Youtube.Com. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwaTdWUCUd4.
Freeman, John. “Kazuo Ishiguro On Song Lyrics, Scones, And The Life He Could Have Had”. 2017. Literary Hub. https://lithub.com/kazuo-ishiguro-on-song-lyrics-scones-and-the-life-he-could-have-had/.
Dostoevsky, Fyodor.”The Idiot”. 2022. Gutenberg.Org. https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/2638/pg2638-images.html.
Eliot, T.S.”The Waste Land By T. S. Eliot | Poetry Foundation”. 2022. Poetry Foundation. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47311/the-waste-land.
Robots: Songs from Cloud Atlas
December 13, 2022 § Leave a comment
Link to “Songs from Cloud Atlas“: https://jasondbrauer7.wixsite.com/cloud-atlas
We brought to life six songs from the six stories in David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas: a sea shanty/historical ballad about the tragic fate of the Moriori; an imagining of Robert Frobisher’s Cloud Atlas Sextet; a jazz-tinged song on Luisa Rey’s internal conflicts; a Beatles-inspired song that Timothy Cavendish might have listened to on his drive up to Scotland; an electronica protest song for Sonmi and the fabricants; and a Valleyman folk song on Zach’ry the Brave featuring wooden xylophones, hide drums, and goat horns.
–Peter Taylor and Jason Brauer
Robots: The Proof
December 13, 2022 § Leave a comment
“The Proof,” an original short story by Andrew Kolondra Jr., with a digital robot model designed by Alex Mills. Loosely inspired by Isaac Asimov and Daniel Keyes.
Robots: Letters From an Eve
December 12, 2022 § Leave a comment
By Carter Hays
Robots: 爱, robot
December 12, 2022 § Leave a comment
Link to the Tumblr blog that Stephanie and I created for our final project, “爱 (ai), robot:” https://ai-robot.tumblr.com/. The blog utilizes Tumblr’s interface to explore the conceptualization of eyes in science fiction media, using a variety of media and textual analysis created by us alongside sourced and collated media. Visit the “about” section for more information.
-Claire Reber and Stephanie Hu
Robots: Final Project––3D DALL-E Art Gallery (The Humanity and Inhumanity of AI)
December 12, 2022 § Leave a comment
Link to the 3D gallery displaying our project: https://artspaces.kunstmatrix.com/node/11139303
This exhibition features images that are generated by an A.I. called DALL-E. They were generated based on the descriptions that students Aaron Lee, Gloria Koo, and Charlie Thorne gave DALL-E. All of the descriptions are of scenes from A.I. centered literature and film (including robots and clones) that highlight a point in which the non-human character best demonstrates its humanity or inhumanity.
ROBOTS: “Dream Each Other’s Dreams” – Ender’s Game Stop Motion
December 12, 2022 § Leave a comment
We created, edited, and scored a stop-motion animation short recreation of the last chapter of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. This scene is pivotal for the moral message of the story; Ender communicates with a pupal Bugger queen and learns of their empathy. She reveals that once the Buggers knew of humanity’s sentience, they backed off from the war and no longer planned to colonize Earth. Originally, the Buggers had assumed humanity did not have sentience due to their lack of shared memory and differing methods of communication. Humans, however, knew full well of Bugger sentience (at the very least, as a collective sentient organism) and still felt threatened enough to pursue genocide. Notably, this chapter attempts to avoid placing shame or blame on either species, instead focusing on a lack of effective communication. Ender’s ability to communicate with and support the Bugger Queen, and her faith in his intentions, creates the possibility of a potentially hopeful ending – despite a profoundly heartbreaking ending. We found this chapter to be incredibly meaningful, and wanted to share it. Amelia scored and edited the film, while I created set pieces and the characters. We filmed and planned extensively together, and focused on the parallels created within the chapter – that of the shared miseries felt, the struggle for communication and harmony, and the overall feeling of the beginning and conclusion of this particular moment within the plot.
Watch our stop motion video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SH8F_6Y3rPE
– Gemma and Amelia