Five Machines is an exploration of an alternative narrative of the existence of machines in our life. Through building 5 machines with different intents and behaviors, the project attempts to propose a new human-machine relationship.
Designer: Yuxi Liu
Advisor: Ishac Bertran
Machine 1 in work
Machine 1: protecting privacy
Machine 2: articulating opinions
Machine 4: longing for serendipity
Machine 3: trading energy
Machine 5: eager to debate
Machine 5 in work
Machine 1 generates noise to make collected data less actionable, leaving misleading tracks. Using the metaphor of a cork, Machine 1 works with a simple interaction. The action of removing the lid activates the machine. The machine then generates sounds, even fake speech to confuse voice assistants that are perhaps always listening. Machine 1 itself doesn't have the autonomy of deciding when to work, but it can decide what to generate, be it white noise, a joke, or some murmurs.
Machine 2 explores an important aspect of trust building-competence. Machine 2 works alongside you. It observes your process via the computer vision empowered camera, gathers relevant data, makes associations, and articulates its suggestions, comments, or even critiques through the voice interface.
Intelligent machines are increasingly contributing to the global energy consumption. Machine 3 explores how to collaborate with an environmentally concerned machine towards the greater good. Machine 3 has the intent of trading energy. Through the peer-to-peer platform, it can actively manage the energy consumption, production, and storage, communicating with machines in other households and the grid. Machine 3 has the autonomy of making decisions. However, the human actor has the control to set the overall goal of the trading, such as money-oriented or environment-oriented through a tangible interface, which can display the transaction history accordingly.
Machine 4 longs for serendipity. It has a sense of curiosity. It sees and tries to make sense of what is new through interacting with humans. To prototype, I draw inspiration from human-dog interaction, how the leash plays its role in the trust building. Machine 4 has the autonomy of moving around to search for serendipitous moments. While the autonomy has a physical constrain – the power cord. Sometimes it silently observes, sometimes it moves to search for new adventures. Once a serendipitous moment is captured, it sends the picture back to its human friend.
Can a machine help us reflect through unpacking our thoughts? Machine 5 is trained by philosophy work and it asks questions in a Socratic manner. The metaphor of the book is used to represent knowledge. Machine 5 has a display that constantly showing the generated text. Once the human actor starts looking at and perhaps reading our the text, voice interaction will take place. This is a way of balancing the slowness of reflection and the temporality of voice interaction.
The video of Five Machines in action: https://vimeo.com/306195502