• Reechal Mevada

Humanizing Machines or Humanizing Humans

Updated: Apr 24

After a super long Webex call (along with its glitches), I ended the day with a refreshing discussion hosted by Neil Leach on using AI in design – an initiative by Digital Futures (totally recommend you tune into their series every Saturday morning -- their current topic is computational design presented by young graduates in the field).

It has been a sobering moment to contemplate. “We are alone together” is pretty much how I have always felt about NYC.

Having watched Westworld S1 twice now, I truly admire the audacity of it. But I am always optimistic (Russel Stuart’s TED talk) about our futures and love Richard Brautigan’s vision of a utopian society freed from all burdens with the help of technology.

However, truth be told, there was a point where I isolated myself in a room without a window to work on my research for days, fantasizing about a VR future (probably Google is already testing prison-like, well, housing cells somewhere in California right now) but failed miserably. It kind of made me think about Mary and the Black & White theory.

Parenthesis: Mary was a scientist that specialized in colour – the wavelengths, the neurological effects and other properties. Mary's Room is a philosophical thought experiment that attempts to establish that there are non-physical properties and attainable knowledge that can be discovered only through conscious experience. In this experiment, Mary was trapped in a black and white house with even a black and white monitor until one fine day she saw colour for the first time. Now that she studied extensively about colour throughout her life without experiencing it, did she learn anything new when she went outside her room? This experiment was to show the difference between the computer and human mind. The computer is the black and white room and the human mind is when it walks out.

Anyway, moving on.

Pamela Pavliscak

36 questions to ask your chatbot – my absolute favorite being “What is one detail you recall from your last chat?”


And ofcourse I ended up asking some of them to Alexa (special thanks to a friend for setting me up with her as my house-warming present, especially during these science fictional times). Just like I tried asking Siri “Hey, will you pray for me?” last year which ended up becoming my Graduate thesis at UC Berkeley (also now available here *overwhelmed*)

Pavliscak is an assistant professor at Pratt Institute, specializing in emotionally intelligent technology. Her book Emotionally Intelligent Design maps out how we can create a more empathetic future by blending machine and human emotional intelligence. The collection Digital Fix includes her chapter about designing for well-being. Next, she’s working on a field guide to internet emotion.

Also, I found myself stumbling upon this: “If We Teach Machines To Think, Will They Be as Stupid as People?”



My simple pleasures – when I come across a mind-boggling page after a few clicks on ads. This website is literally about how hackers start their afternoons. The essay, "Rick and Morty and the Meaning of Life" by Dan Jeffries was read by nearly every nerd on the internet because “Knowing the truth, that nothing matters, can actually save you in those moments."

So, check out this article, based on the acute perceptions of several industry heavyweights:


Digital Fix – Fix Digital

Anthology with articles that address questions like how can the various problems facing our societies be resolved in light of digital technologies and their negative impact on social structures?

%Topic/ What worries me about AI

%Topic/ With great power comes great responsibility

%Topic/ Luxury problems: How to overcome the paradox of the digital economy

%Topic/ Five pillars of ethical immersion

%Topic/ Welcome to augmented modernity

%Topic/ Can we design technology for well-being?

%Topic/ Digital Fix - Fix Digital

%Topic/ The imagination trap

%Topic/ From innocent idealism to pragmatic fixes

%Topic/ No way back?

So, here we go:

All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace

I like to think (and

the sooner the better!)

of a cybernetic meadow

where mammals and computers

live together in mutually

programming harmony

like pure water

touching clear sky.

I like to think

(right now, please!)

of a cybernetic forest

filled with pines and electronics

where deer stroll peacefully

past computers

as if they were flowers

with spinning blossoms.

I like to think

(it has to be!)

of a cybernetic ecology

where we are free of our labors

and joined back to nature,

returned to our mammal

brothers and sisters,

and all watched over

by machines of loving grace.

I have always appreciated the ambiguity in narratives, and my next post will cover #FakeNews – Viral by Design. Please reach out fictionmapper@gmail.com if you’d like to contribute to this space.

Credits: The title of this article comes from Jignest Gharat, an Interactive Designer currently re-imagining immersive experiences in opera using AR ((((BOOM)))%!??!!!!

PS. This post was written in a single outburst of energy after attending a talk on ‘Leaving Earth’ by Nicholas de Monchaux and Xin Liu from MIT Architecture and Space Exploration Initiative.

A side note: Space exploration allows us to see things we should have seen a long time ago.

Currently reading: Neuromancer by William Gibson:

Please reach out fictionmapper@gmail.com if you’d like to contribute to this space.

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