Final Project: "Escape from the Turing Trap"

Laura Sch├╝tz




This project is part of a class assignment for the critical making course "Music and AI".

Empathy AI

Empathy AI allows for a human-AI interaction without words. Unlike prompt-based interactions this project allows understanding through facial expressions. Whatever emotion the human user might be feeling, the AI will recognize and adjust it's color and sound to the human emotion, showing empathy. Empathy is not just possible between humans, but also between humans and animals. And while plants are said to not have emotions, they are well capable of sensing their surroundings. If we are going to live our lives with AIs and share tasks and outcomes, then we need to interact and find a way of understanding one another. This project provokes with an imaginary human-AI interaction. Color and sound based. No words needed. Just empathy.

How It Works

The application was built in Unity. Facial feature recognition was done using FaceOSC. An OSC messages with facial feature parameters are sent to Wekinator where they are mapped to "emotions" or numbers. These are sent to Unity via UnityOSC. In Unity the input values from Wekinator are categorized into emotions and the screen is colored in a color matching the emotion. In addition the emotion parameters are sent to a ChucK program via OSC from Unity where audio output is synthesized. The sound and colors match the human facial expression.

Code

Unity Project
Max Patcher
Chuck File

Reflection

I took some time away from technology to think about my final project and the statement I wanted to make. I am hoping to express that AI is not human and that humanizing interactions that we are having with AI - by speaking and writing with it - like we would with another human seems incorrect. We are dealing with a piece of technology, with lines of code and files full of numbers. Yet we can't disregard the "intelligence" part in Artificial Intelligence. So how can we represent an AI in a way that is not human, but true to it's intelligence. As an analogy I thought of animals and plants. We know that they are intelligent, some more, some less. And we have an intuitive way of interacting with them and it seems as though we are understanding one another. I wanted to create a humna-AI interaction that seems as natural and effortless. Nevertheless this idea of making the AI seem empathetic felt wrong to me. I would be humanizing the very thing that I set out to criticize. For the final deliverable I added a plot twist to the experience which takes the viewer behind the scenes and exposes the inner workings of the AI. I tried to make the human user realize that even if an AI is capable of emulating empathy, that an AI is still nothing more than data, vectors, weights, 0s and 1s. Human-made, but a lifeless piece of technology still. I had great joy thinking about this project and hope that the experience allows for critical relfection on humanity's relation with AI and how we depict it.