Choosing the focus area we chose--the implications of artificial intelligence over the a long time span on human behavior and actions, we always knew we were going to face a challenge translating that timescale to an exhibit setting. When people interacted with our exhibit, we saw positive reactions when one of us was at the table to explain and answer any questions regarding the concept. Additionally, whenever somebody took the time to read even a portion of the diary, they reacted with interest and seemed very engaged and in sync with the narrative we were telling. For those who skimmed or just brushed by our exhibit, we saw some nods, but their understanding of the concept seemed to be more surface level, based more around the physical objects we produced than the relationship that had developed between Chappie and the user over time.
Of course, we also had some technical difficulties. Namely, our NFIC tags broke on the day of the exhibit (since fixed) and the projection was too small and grainy to be appealing to visitors. In our next steps, we would like to fix these things as well as adjust the LEDs so they pulse with Chappie’s voice, giving additional indication of what is happening for the user’s benefit. Additionally, we would like to explore more ways to communicate a relationship evolving over time.
One really interesting observation we made during the exhibition was, even though Chappie was visualized as a futuristic companion, the viewers weren’t astonished or cringed by it. They accepted it as a very realistic phenomenon which to them seemed to be true within a few years. This represents how people are very receptive to advancing technologies and how they become a part of our everyday lives. This being one of the many questions we were investigating, became an important reflection towards our AI Companion.
Overall, we think the exhibit and the design and development process for creating Chappie really helped us dive into our biggest question of how constant companionship, particularly with a technological entity, can impact a human. Because we constrained ourselves to a research experiment context for the purposes of ensuring our timeline is believable, we were unable to explore how society as a whole might change once everybody got their hands on a personal AI companion, once these empathic, digital helpers were truly as ubiquitous and pervasive as smart phones.
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