October 17, 2018No Comments

Anatomy of an AI System

Anatomy of an AI System map

Anatomy of an AI System By Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler

  • designed to either “blend in or stand out”
  • “Because Alexa is in the cloud, she is always getting smarter and adding new features.”
    • hard to explain and understand the extraordinary complexity of these artificial intelligence agent
    • but do people care?
    • requires “a vast planetary network, fueled by the extraction of non-renewable materials, labor, and data”
    • reminds me Sandra
  • lithium extraction
    • Atacama regions in Chile and Argentina
    • ‘grey gold’
    • lithium-Ion batteries
    • limited lifespan
    • invisible threads of commerce, science, politics and power
  • three processes: material resources, human labor, and data
    • the ethereal metaphor of ‘the cloud’
    • it’s hard to ‘see’ any of these processes individually
  • human user = chimera (hybrid)
    • a consumer, a resource, a worker, and a product
    • aren’t we always a ‘chimera’ in real life as well?
    • helping to train the neural networks
    • ‘collective intelligence’?
  • The echo = an ‘ear’ in the home
  • statua citofonica (the ‘talking statue’)
    • “listening systems” = power, class, and secrecy

October 9, 2018No Comments

Dialogflow: Fulfillment and Logic

Sketchbook gif from Don't hug me I'm scared

Assignment 4 is a practice based on Codelabs (part 1 and part 2) for building Actions for the Google Assistant. It contains elements as Permission, Suggestion, and BasicCard along with usage of webhook.

It is a parody of Don't Hug me I'm Scared.

October 1, 2018No Comments

Sandra Podcast

Sandra Podcast Image

Sandra podcast

  1. episode 1 (Hope is a Mistake, 17:59)
  2. episode 2 (The User Experience, 21:51)

Sandra, the series of podcast episodes about this virtual assistant that is actually powered by an army of real people, reminded me back to one of the second week’s reading: The Difference followed by the author’s note. In the comments, many readers were debating either if this is a human being or a chatbot who is answering in the chatroom. My favorite comment was by Loki: “…But if he is human, than this is a great story to show how possible it is to program someone. Keep telling someone that they aren’t a person and they’ll eventually start to believe it themselves.”

Therefore, Sandra is not all about faking those sleek and mighty technology products but also about identity. Who’s containing who? In this podcast series, it seems like Helen is “inside” the Sandra machine - making Sandra as a mere container. Why can’t Sandra just sound like Helen, like a normal human? It also resonates well with the other podcast episode, Helpful Mom Voices, which talks about nowadays TTS doesn’t need to “appear” as human but it still attempts to bring high technology “down to human level.” In case of Sandra, it’s the opposite. It seems like as soon as the answer/reaction from the humans behind Sandra is transformed into the typical AI assistant voice, people seem to feel comfortable - even too much comfortable to ask improper and impolite queries.  It’s such an intriguing storyline as a podcast, but I hope that no one actually comes up with the same idea.

October 1, 2018No Comments

Dialogflow: Intents, Entities and Contexts

Assignment 3 that the user plays adventure game only through simple Q&A. It's built with Dialogflow but needs some revision due to my lack of understanding in concepts of entities and contexts.

It was inspired by text-based role-playing game such as Candy Box! and A Dark Room.

September 25, 2018No Comments

Wisdom of Crowds

Through a larger scope, FOSS/FLOSS is ultimately another form of collective intelligence built by crowds. As similar examples in the same category, there are big data and wiki, although their methodology can vary. These examples require continuous self-inspection and high morale to be actively maintained. If you think about the recent big data related issues and how they make people to be nervous, it’s easy to understand why transparency is critical; people want to know what they participate into.

Emma Irwin said “ …when audience remains homogeneous, and abuse goes unchallenged.” My experience in FOSS participation is close to zero, but I can agree with the sentence due to my past habit of editing wiki. I was intrigued by the amount of information along with its informality, but its informal aspect often allowed collective brutality as well, especially in documents about politics, religion and/or gender. Not to mention that about ten years ago internet users were much more homogenous, so the internal wiki system that is similar to the one (i.e. opening issues and pull request) in Github did not function successfully.

Sometimes it feels like the only solution is time. During ten years, the wiki gradually gained broader spectrum of contributors, which delivered diverse viewpoints and resource in its contents. It's ironic that the wiki simply seems even less peaceful from outside, by its increased number of debates/issues - but that is how people find better ways in real world: by arguing and colliding each other.

September 24, 2018No Comments

Voice-Controlled Game: One Hand Clapping

One Hand Clapping Image

"It seems like the invention of every new technology comes along with games." - Paul Cutsinger, Amazon

Game industry is where engineering, design and art merge together and create a virtual environment. There’s been numerous trial to develop new ways of interaction, either from storyline (i.e. metafiction) or from input and output methods. Many games are studied to understand interactive aspects between humans and machines, such as Black & White in UI research area.

The first time I played One Hand Clapping was through one of the Twitch streamers I often watch. Its singing input method and beautiful visual design was interesting enough to download it, and actually try it with my friend.

I have to mention that this game was rather hilarious to me when I merely watched the streamer playing it, because he is heavily tone-deaf and failed to sing even the simplest notes. It’s similar with how a person has to pronounce precisely in English for voice recognition to “recognize” the person correctly.

One Hand Clapping and the funny streamer reminded me how it’s still challenging to use such input as voice and motion, yet I found them as most humane and refreshing input methods at the same time. It will be also exciting to involve multiplayers, because it was the first thing my friend and I attempted to do with the game.

September 24, 2018No Comments

Voice Input and Snake Game

Snake game with voice recognition

Assignment 2 that takes voice input from a person to control in snake game (example by Prashant Gupta).


September 18, 2018No Comments

Software Within the Ecology


Processing and FLOSS was a helpful reading in terms of understanding basic concepts and vocabularies of free software. It also led me to Why Open Source misses the point of Free Software, and my favorite part was when Richard Stallman clarifies the term “free” by saying “..think of “free speech,” not “free beer.”

Probably it’s another reason why FLOSS is FLOSS, not FOSS - to make clear that it’s about the ideals of liberty. This particular description about embedded ideology in software comes back in Taeyoon Choi’s Worms, Butterflies and Dandelions. Open source tools for the arts.

On another hand, such ideology can bloom and be maintained only after achieving certain conditions in social structure - which makes the use of term “ecology” understandable. Casey Reas says “This creates complex contingencies. If one of these parts stops being maintained or has an error, the other software within the ecology are affected.”; and I think this is a nice way to frame the relationship between different open source projects. The fact that it requires such social atmosphere shows its powerful side, but also how vulnerable it can be - often being misinterpreted as “free beer” to the society.

September 17, 2018No Comments

The Difference & Helpful Mom Voices

The Difference followed by the author’s notes

  • 2008-08-21 20:17:43 comment by Loki: "I disagree paradoxia...I mean everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But if he is human, than this is a great story to show how possible it is to program someone. Keep telling someone that they aren't a person and they'll eventually start to believe it themselves. Still, interesting writing all the same."
  • chatbot or human?

Helpful Mom Voices podcast episode from Reasonably Sound

  • Alexa, Siri.. etc
  • voice-over artists: Susan Bennett, Karen Jacobsen... etc
  • TTS (text to speech) technology
  • Character in digital assistance
  • Female — “Helpful Mom Voices”
  • bring in them “higher order of living”, rationality, intelligence, soul, spirituality
  • voice: expression of agency — becoming its own entity; but it’s not elevated to the status of rational human
  • before it was imitating human, and making show - now it doesn’t need to be “appearing” human. Now it’s logic operation.
  • bring high technology down to “human level”
  • history of operator in late 19th century
  • higher pitch = “more pleasant” = more memorable information = unless it has to do with “masculine” subjects like math
  • people have expectation and rating on voices
  • “symbolic gender”

- also reminds me of the Vocaloid culture & marketing in Japan.


September 17, 2018No Comments

Non-speech Input to Speech Synthesis

Week 1 assignment that changes the reading speed depends on the number of words in the sentence (smaller or bigger than 5). It would be nice to figure out how to directly map words-count, and further using paragraph to create speed and color values.