Strange New Creatures

Phil Van Allen

Julia Echevarria, Viola Fu, Jerry Ma, Evan Stalker

AI systems are inherently strange because of their odd mix of human parentage, algorithmic quirks, and savant syndrome with “islands of genius.” Our research project will embrace this odd mix in a series of design experiments that strive to create creatures with form and behavior that are “natural” to this strange inner character.
After developing a taxonomy of AI character, we’ll invent and prototype many new “species” that explore different ways to embody and reflect their underlying “true” characters through multimodal forms, behaviors, playfulness and communications. In doing this, we’ll avoid easy skeuomorphic tropes such as anthropomorphism and pets, while using strange new metaphors and stories that allow for common ground with humans. Once we have our menagerie, we’ll experiment with people to see how the creatures are understood and interacted with over time.

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