La Medusa

Animation December 2018

'Switch' is a mock-up of a neural network, controlling the fate of passengers as they pass through the transport system of a 50-year distant future of benevolent despotism and impossible decisions.

  • Date - December 2018
  • Created by - Tim Bentley

Ghost in the Machine

Image from Switch

One of the few things we know with certainty about the role of technology 50 years from now is that it will be both more sophisticated and more extensive than today. The notion that humans will have any role at all in the day-to-day running of society's 'practical' tasks is not only possible but entirely credible. Assuming - correctly or otherwise - that we will leave the smooth running of our systems to cold, calculating machine intelligence, where will human intervention be required? What role would humans play in the everyday management of a network when we are only two steps away from that kind The possibility that machinesmight seek our guidance only onquestions of morality or ethicssparked several ideas, particularlythat AI might grow able to predictthe future with some degree ofaccuracy.Not so much predicting thelottery or football but calculatinglikelihood, feeding in the present,multiplying it by the humanelement and seeing what comesout.This treatment of humans asmachines, or at least quantifiable‘nodes’ and therefore reducible tobrute-force calculations formedthe backbone of the project.

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

The AI will be exploiting human emotion in much the same way as we exploit computational intelligence, filling the small yet significant void of the other. Whilst the machine is capable of identifying and classifying human emotions and extrapolating their likely consequences, it lacks the ability to attach any significance to them. A philosophically deterministic decision-making approach would be possible, yet this clearly is neither how our society functions, nor how we want it to function. Not only would we balk at the idea of taking 50 lives if it were the only way to save 51, but we construct societies on thoroughly illogical lines, guided by transitory notions of morality and virtue, duty and punishment.

Image from Switch

Value-based predictions of the risk an individual's choices present. The further a person deviates from standard behaviour patterns (y), the greater the benefit of their potential removal.
You'll be pleased to know that this first one is fine.
Nothing out of the ordinary.
It's yours, in fact.

Switch Console
Image from Switch

Emotional Intelligence

A society which no longer relies upon human input for anything other than ethical or emotion-based decisions will require a GUI which reflects this radical shift in responsibility. Identifying, isolating and interpreting specific pieces of data will be both unnecessary and impractical, since the volume of data and the calculations required to interpret it in any meaningful way will be beyond the reach of human intelligence - even that of the initial AI programmers. The key objective was therefore to take real-world data and present it in a way which elicits not an analytical response but an emotional, sensory understanding.