How will AI shape the future of storytelling?
Can technology act as a feedback loop for human emotions?
Karen Palmer is the Storyteller from the Future. She is an award-winning international artist and TED speaker. She creates immersive film experiences at the intersection of film, A.I. technology, gaming, immersive storytelling, neuroscience, consciousness, implicit bias, and the parkour philosophy of moving through fear. She is the creator of RIOT, an emotionally responsive film, which uses facial recognition and A.I. technology to navigate through a dangerous riot.
KAREN PALMER: My name is Karen Palmer and I'm the storyteller from the future. And I've come back to enable people to survive what is to come through the power of storytelling. So I create films that watch you back using artificial intelligence and facial recognition. As they watch my films the narrative branches in real time depending on their emotional response. Therefore, they can become conscious of their subconscious behavior. And if they want learn to kind of neurologically reprogram themselves by going into the film more than once and changing their emotions and changing the narrative of the film.
Perception iO, perception input/output is my second of my artificial intelligence trilogy series. Perception iO puts the participant in the future world of law enforcement. You see in the future of law enforcement is about artificial intelligence. But someone has to program the artificial intelligence and in this case it's going to be you. So you are going to be sitting in what is training data for the future of law enforcement. So you will watch a series of two films from the perception of law enforcement coming into a situation which is chaotic. Both films will have a lead character, but the only difference is that the lead will be in one film black and one film will be white. And as you watch the film and the action unfolding your emotions will determine how the officer will respond to the person.
So if you deem the person is someone that needs assistance maybe you will call for backup. If you deem that the person is someone that is a threat maybe you may arrest them or maybe you may shoot them. This experience is to make you aware of your own implicit bias. Because the only difference with these two characters is their color. And I also want you to make the participant aware of how artificial intelligence is built. It's not built by a computer. It's built by a person. The film makes you conscious of how your emotions affect the narrative of the film, but it also makes you aware of how your emotions affect the narrative of your life.
I used to direct music videos and TV commercials about a decade ago and I became very aware of the power and the influence of just linear film. How I used to style somebody in the video of the dancers and I'd go on the street and I'd see people wearing that style. And I really felt like a great responsibility in what I was doing. So much so that I kind of came at the music industry and I very much wanted to explore the true power and potential of digital media. And I wanted to find a way not to project an image or representation or ideology onto someone but how to use digital media as more of a feedback loop so it could enable you to discover your true potential.
- Technology will change the way that humans tell and experience stories in the future.
- Palmer presents an idea for AI film that watches the viewer and changes the narrative based on their emotional responses to chaotic events.
- By acting as a feedback loop, the AI will make storytellers aware of their implicit bias and become conscious of subconscious behaviors.
- Palmer's latest interactive installation, Perception IO., is on view at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City.
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Young people could even end up less anxiety-ridden, thanks to newfound confidence
- The coronavirus pandemic may have a silver lining: It shows how insanely resourceful kids really are.
- Let Grow, a non-profit promoting independence as a critical part of childhood, ran an "Independence Challenge" essay contest for kids. Here are a few of the amazing essays that came in.
- Download Let Grow's free Independence Kit with ideas for kids.
New research establishes an unexpected connection.
- A study provides further confirmation that a prolonged lack of sleep can result in early mortality.
- Surprisingly, the direct cause seems to be a buildup of Reactive Oxygen Species in the gut produced by sleeplessness.
- When the buildup is neutralized, a normal lifespan is restored.
We don't have to tell you what it feels like when you don't get enough sleep. A night or two of that can be miserable; long-term sleeplessness is out-and-out debilitating. Though we know from personal experience that we need sleep — our cognitive, metabolic, cardiovascular, and immune functioning depend on it — a lack of it does more than just make you feel like you want to die. It can actually kill you, according to study of rats published in 1989. But why?
A new study answers that question, and in an unexpected way. It appears that the sleeplessness/death connection has nothing to do with the brain or nervous system as many have assumed — it happens in your gut. Equally amazing, the study's authors were able to reverse the ill effects with antioxidants.
The study, from researchers at Harvard Medical School (HMS), is published in the journal Cell.
An unexpected culprit
The new research examines the mechanisms at play in sleep-deprived fruit flies and in mice — long-term sleep-deprivation experiments with humans are considered ethically iffy.
What the scientists found is that death from sleep deprivation is always preceded by a buildup of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) in the gut. These are not, as their name implies, living organisms. ROS are reactive molecules that are part of the immune system's response to invading microbes, and recent research suggests they're paradoxically key players in normal cell signal transduction and cell cycling as well. However, having an excess of ROS leads to oxidative stress, which is linked to "macromolecular damage and is implicated in various disease states such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer, neurodegeneration, and aging." To prevent this, cellular defenses typically maintain a balance between ROS production and removal.
"We took an unbiased approach and searched throughout the body for indicators of damage from sleep deprivation," says senior study author Dragana Rogulja, admitting, "We were surprised to find it was the gut that plays a key role in causing death." The accumulation occurred in both sleep-deprived fruit flies and mice.
"Even more surprising," Rogulja recalls, "we found that premature death could be prevented. Each morning, we would all gather around to look at the flies, with disbelief to be honest. What we saw is that every time we could neutralize ROS in the gut, we could rescue the flies." Fruit flies given any of 11 antioxidant compounds — including melatonin, lipoic acid and NAD — that neutralize ROS buildups remained active and lived a normal length of time in spite of sleep deprivation. (The researchers note that these antioxidants did not extend the lifespans of non-sleep deprived control subjects.)
Image source: Tomasz Klejdysz/Shutterstock/Big Think
The study's tests were managed by co-first authors Alexandra Vaccaro and Yosef Kaplan Dor, both research fellows at HMS.
You may wonder how you compel a fruit fly to sleep, or for that matter, how you keep one awake. The researchers ascertained that fruit flies doze off in response to being shaken, and thus were the control subjects induced to snooze in their individual, warmed tubes. Each subject occupied its own 29 °C (84F) tube.
For their sleepless cohort, fruit flies were genetically manipulated to express a heat-sensitive protein in specific neurons. These neurons are known to suppress sleep, and did so — the fruit flies' activity levels, or lack thereof, were tracked using infrared beams.
Starting at Day 10 of sleep deprivation, fruit flies began dying, with all of them dead by Day 20. Control flies lived up to 40 days.
The scientists sought out markers that would indicate cell damage in their sleepless subjects. They saw no difference in brain tissue and elsewhere between the well-rested and sleep-deprived fruit flies, with the exception of one fruit fly.
However, in the guts of sleep-deprived fruit flies was a massive accumulation of ROS, which peaked around Day 10. Says Vaccaro, "We found that sleep-deprived flies were dying at the same pace, every time, and when we looked at markers of cell damage and death, the one tissue that really stood out was the gut." She adds, "I remember when we did the first experiment, you could immediately tell under the microscope that there was a striking difference. That almost never happens in lab research."
The experiments were repeated with mice who were gently kept awake for five days. Again, ROS built up over time in their small and large intestines but nowhere else.
As noted above, the administering of antioxidants alleviated the effect of the ROS buildup. In addition, flies that were modified to overproduce gut antioxidant enzymes were found to be immune to the damaging effects of sleep deprivation.
The research leaves some important questions unanswered. Says Kaplan Dor, "We still don't know why sleep loss causes ROS accumulation in the gut, and why this is lethal." He hypothesizes, "Sleep deprivation could directly affect the gut, but the trigger may also originate in the brain. Similarly, death could be due to damage in the gut or because high levels of ROS have systemic effects, or some combination of these."
The HMS researchers are now investigating the chemical pathways by which sleep-deprivation triggers the ROS buildup, and the means by which the ROS wreak cell havoc.
"We need to understand the biology of how sleep deprivation damages the body so that we can find ways to prevent this harm," says Rogulja.
Referring to the value of this study to humans, she notes,"So many of us are chronically sleep deprived. Even if we know staying up late every night is bad, we still do it. We believe we've identified a central issue that, when eliminated, allows for survival without sleep, at least in fruit flies."
We must rethink the "chemical imbalance" theory of mental health.
- A new review found that withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants and antipsychotics can last for over a year.
- Side effects from SSRIs, SNRIs, and antipsychotics last longer than benzodiazepines like Valium or Prozac.
- The global antidepressant market is expected to reach $28.6 billion this year.
Philosophers like to present their works as if everything before it was wrong. Sometimes, they even say they have ended the need for more philosophy. So, what happens when somebody realizes they were mistaken?
Sometimes philosophers are wrong and admitting that you could be wrong is a big part of being a real philosopher. While most philosophers make minor adjustments to their arguments to correct for mistakes, others make large shifts in their thinking. Here, we have four philosophers who went back on what they said earlier in often radical ways.
Or is doubt a self-fulfilling prophecy?