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Dev Blog: Week 1

Hello and welcome to the development blog for Artificial Intelligentsia! We are a team comprised of five students at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC). Our members include:

Zhiguo Lai

Lotus Li

Derrick Pemberton Jr

Shitong Shen

Jue Wang

Project Advisor: Heather Kelley

And our client: Pamela McCorduck

Our project description is:

Pamela McCorduck has written several books on the significance of AI, and is currently writing her memoir on her life and times with the artificial intelligentsia. The ETC team is challenged to develop an interactive experience (could be a game, VR/AR, etc.) that helps people explore the historical, cultural, artistic and philosophical topics around her work. For example, the same program, facial recognition, is widely used by the Chinese government, but used sparingly and in some places strongly resisted, by Americans. Or, artificial intelligence was scorned as impossible, even by many in the scientific community, until the 1990s. Now a new article appears almost daily worrying about the pervasiveness of AI (jobs, invasion of privacy, large scale tracking, autonomous vehicles, fast decision making without explanation, new kinds of art). Further possibilities abound. Copies of the memoir will be available to read.  The final deliverable will be determined in collaboration with Pamela.

With this description in hand, we began our week with a short team meeting for introductions, role distribution, general thoughts on our subject matter, and speculated on what our project could be. After this we dove head first into research. We obtained copies of several of Pamela’s books, including Machines Who Think and Aaron’s Code. In addition, Pamela sent us an outline of her forthcoming book: This Could Be Important. Outside of Pamela’s work, we also came up with a list of artistic and narrative references that deal with AI and humanity’s relationship with it. This list included: Blade Runner, Her, Ghost in the Shell, Ex Machina, and a few others.

After a few days of research, we had our first meeting with our project advisor, Heather Kelley. In this meeting Heather asked us several questions for us to ponder as we move forward with research and brainstorming like “Is this about the history of AI? The present? The future?” Heather also provided some inspirations and references for us to look in to like Noah Harari’s Homo Deus.

This week we also had our first team dinner! Here’s a pic:

We ended the week with our first conference call with Pamela In this discussion, we introduced ourselves and got a basic overview of what Pamela expects out of this project. For the most part, Pamela said she will remain hands off, leaving the vision and scope of the project up to us. Pamela also gave us a few dramatic point from her book that could be exciting to explore in an interactive experience:

  • The transition of the definition of intelligence from reasoning based to knowledge based.
  • The achievement of real deep learning in AI
  • AI being a bridge between the Two Cultures: Humanities and Sciences
  • The historical antagonism against AI stemming from the fear that humans will become slaves to the machines. This is a definite possibility but the media tends to sensationalize this point.

We also asked Pamela to speculate on the future of AI. Being a self-proclaimed “lifelong optimist”, she responded with a more positive vision of the future, where AI and humans form a partnership and the emotional fallibility of humans will be supplemented with a rationalism from AI. Overall, it was an extremely enlightening conversation–Pamela has a wealth of knowledge and will prove to be an invaluable resource.

To summarize, Week 1 saw us getting settled into our project thematically, organizationally, and interpersonally. We spent a lot of time wrapping our head around the seemingly limitless directions available to us. In the next week, it is our priority to narrow down our focus and tailor our research to match.