daniel.white at fu-berlin.de

hkatsuno at mail.doshisha.ac.jp

Kyoto, Japan
Berlin, Germany

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©2019 by ModelEmotion

AllI

AI X Ally

PROJECT AllI

A collaborative project between students of anthropology, design, art, and engineering to reimagine the character of artificial agents and assistants in society

OVERVIEW

Project AllI is an open and collaborative project between students of anthropology, design, art, and engineering to reimagine the character of artificial agents and assistants in society. Inspired by the acknowledgment that our current assistants (Alexa, Siri, Cortana) do not fully represent the diversity of views in culture, with some reports arguing they actively reinforce existing biases, we aim to build a platform for creatively reimagining our relationship with artificial agents that not only better represents the diversity of cultural values but also leverages them to fostering emotional, affective, and artistic flourishing. What kind of A-ll-I do you envision? We invite you to consider, create, and contribute your ideas.

 

[Some of our current AI assistants: https://geeksfl.com/blog/best-voice-assistant/]

 

BACKGROUND

The ethnographic record is populated with many examples of what could be called allies: agents that while not exactly or nearly human nonetheless play a reciprocal role in making that society whole and flourish. Particular examples include the canine companions that in cooperative coexistence shaped human-dog evolution; certain deities taking form in natural objects like rivers, mountains, and trees, such as the kami of Japan's traditional cosmology; deified ancestors such as the Hawaiian ‘aumakua that protect one's family, and are cared for in return; or the sometimes fiercely-depicted protectors of Mahayana and Tantric Buddhist traditions, beings that manifest from one's innate capacity for enlightenment in order to help overcome mental and emotional obstacles.

 

While the different meanings and roles of each of these figures must be situated within their local cultural context, in their pervasiveness and diversity they nonetheless illustrate the creative cultural capacity for ritual, narrative, and material and artistic production to engender figures that, while different from and often more-than-human, are nonetheless active members of society.

 

Contemporary popular culture is certainly not without its own allies. Think, for example, of the recent reigniting of superhero stories, with culture industries like Marvel and DC churning out ongoing iterations of characters that come to human aid. What kind of cultural conditions are these characters responding to? What problems do they solve? What do they tell us about our contemporary condition? How, in short, do they help us?

 

Perhaps the most illustrative and iconic allies of recent times, at least in Japan,

is Doraemon, an animated blue robot cat that travels back in time from the

future to become the faithful ally of a boy called Nobita Nobi. Created by

Fujimoto Hiroshi and Abiko Motoo in 1969, Doraemon has become one of the

most widely read manga in the world. Combining advanced technologies with

astute interpersonal insight, he helps Nobita negotiate a number of personal

and emotional conflicts while also helping him in a variety of ways personally

grow and develop.

 

[Doraemon, by Fujimoto Hiroshi and Abiko Motoo,     

https://www.tv-asahi.co.jp/doraemon/]                 

 

PURPOSE

We draw inspiration from allies like Doraemon, and indeed from a number of characters in Japan's vast media, artistic, and technological fantasy scape, in order to help us think more constructively about the kind of AI assistants we want as participating members of our society. In short, we propose imagining not an ally but rather an AllI, an AI assistant that also embodies the diversity of our developing values.

 

Some may argue that the best way to avoid bias in AI assistants is to not treat them as agents at all but rather as inanimate machines. We welcome this as one alternative among many. However, we also find that in some cultural contexts and conditions, especially when AI advances to degrees of simulated intelligence that cannot help but evoke a sense of agency, treating such an agent as simply a servant or a machine may be just as harmful to interpersonal relations as AI assistants that reproduce deeply imbedded biases. An alternative approach may be to think creatively and artistically about how to imagine AllIes that, like the allies of the ethnographic record, may not always resemble known persons, animals, or other familiar personalities, but may prove to be powerful partners precisely because of the radical difference they embody.

 

Most importantly, we envision AllIes not as assistants or servants but as partners that—like the ‘aumakua, like the canines of our evolutionary past, or even like the fictional characters of our present like Doraemon—teach us how to better care for ourselves by also caring for others.

 

While the practical aim of AllI is to foster better design practices for engineering AI assistants and agents, its ultimate aim is one of education and cultural critique. As such, it endeavors to develop a discerning perspective on the relationship between AI and society that in many cases and for many problems would advocate not applying AI at all. However, in cases where AI can clearly assist or even inspire, we invite people to help us imagine and even in the future build or otherwise realize AllIes.

 

HOW IT WORKS

In the first stage of AllI, we propose a challenge. Brainstorm and design an AllI with four criteria:

 

  1. It must offer assistance for a particular challenge you or society faces, and thus improve one's condition, wellbeing, and generally provide support.

  2. It must be reciprocal: the support one receives must also benefit either the AllI or others.

  3. It must be embodied, physically, digitally, or otherwise.

  4. It must incorporate a technological capacity, even if that capacity does not yet exist.

 

We asked university students to draw, create, or otherwise design an AllI and then explain its features according to the four criteria above.

 

We invite you to do the same! Follow the same guidelines as our students and upload your work to our AllI archive. We will list some examples there to help inspire you, while featuring all submissions as a record of our diverse perspectives on the many ways we might relate personally to AI assistants. 

ASSIGNMENT

Download an assignment-friendly version of the above to use for your class or workshop. For further reading, see the UNESCO report, "I'd blush if I could," and White and Galbraith on "Japan's Emerging Emotional Tech."

PDF

English

概要

人類学者、デザイナー、アーティスト、そしてエンジニアのコラボレーションによって構成される本プロジェクトは、AIエージェントやアシスタントの新たなイメージをデザインすることを目的としています。Alexa, Siri, Cortanaなど現在流通するAIアシスタントは既存のバイアスを助長しているという報告があるように、文化における多様な価値観を反映しているとは言えません。本プロジェクトの狙いは人とAIエージェントとの関係性のアップデートであり、そのために文化的価値や視点の多様性について考慮しつつ、それを人間の感情やアートの領域に利用することを念頭に入れたデザインを考える複合分野からなるプラットフォームの構築です。どのようなアライ(=人間の伴侶的役割を果たす機械)を想像しますか?このプロジェクトでは参加者のアイディアを付き合わせながら、この問いに取り組んでいきます。

背景

民族誌は「アライ」という言葉で称することができる事例であふれています。アライとは、社会の一体化と繁栄のために人間と相互作用的な役割を果たす非人間的存在のことを意味します。例えば、人間との長きにわたる共存関係にあるイヌ。イヌは進化の面においても人間と相互関係を築いてきました。また、川や山そして木などの自然物に宿るとされる日本の伝統的八百万の神。そして、ハワイの先住民達が大事にする守護神「アウマクア」。ハワイでは生き物や植物に化身した先祖が身を守ってくれていると信じられています。さらには、悟りにおいて精神的乱れを乗り越える手助けをするために人々の内面に現れるインドのマハヤナやタントラの神。これらの存在はそれぞれの社会的文脈において異なる意味と役割を持ち合わせていますが、その存在の広汎性と多様性は文化がいかに儀式や物語や物質的世界の創造を通して非人間的存在をかけがえのない社会の一員として生み出してきたのかを示しています。

現代文化にもアライは存在します。例えば、最近のMarvelやDCのスーパーヒーローたちの人気の再燃について考えてみてください。これらのヒーロー達の人気の背後にはどのような文化的理由があるのでしょうか?彼ら(彼女たち)の登場はどのような問題と結びついているのでしょうか?スーパーヒーローに期待される役割は現代社会のどのような側面を表しているのでしょうか?いうなれば、スーパーヒーローはどのように我々の助けや救いになっているのでしょうか?

現代日本でアライのもっとも分かりやすく象徴的な例は「ドラえもん」かもしれません。未来からやってきたこのネコ型ロボットは、未来の「秘密の道具」で大小様々な困難に直面する小学生の野比のび太を叱咤激励し、時には甘やかしながら彼の成長を見守ります。

現代日本でアライのもっとも分かりやすく象徴的な例は「ドラえもん」かもしれません。未来からやってきたこのネコ型ロボットは、未来の「秘密の道具」で大小様々な困難に直面する小学生の野比のび太を叱咤激励し、時には甘やかしながら彼の成長を見守ります。

[ドラえもん, 藤子・F・不二雄,     

https://www.tv-asahi.co.jp/doraemon/]   

課題

以下の4つの条件に従って、あなたのアライについて考えてデザインしてみてください

  1. あなたや社会が直面している何らかの困難の手助けとなることで、状況の好転や幸福度の上昇をもたらすこと。

  2. 相互関係的であること。アライから受けるサポートはアライもしくは社会のためにもなること。

  3. 物理的もしくはデジタル的に何らかの形を伴っていること。

  4. 技術的機能を伴っていること(想像上のテクノロジーでも構わない)。

 

イラスト、工作、その他何らかの方法でアライをデザインしその特徴について説明してください。あなたが描いたアライは以下に直接提出する、以下のアドレスに提出してください。info@modelemotion.org.

アライ(AllI)プロジェクト
 
 

SUBMIT YOUR

A l l I

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1. Describe how your AllI offers assistance for a particular challenge you or society faces, and thus improves one's condition, wellbeing, and generally provides support.

2. Describe how your AllI fosters reciprocity. How does the support one receives also benefit either the AllI or others via the AllI?

3. How is your AllI embodied physically, digitally, or otherwise?

4. How does your AllI incorporate a technological capacity, even if that capacity does not yet exist?

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