Session Six: Understanding the human through the reflection of AI

Sunday 26 May
13:00 – 14:00

Te Kura Hoahoa – School of Design Innovation, Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington, 139 Vivian Street, Te Aro

Our three speakers delve into how we might gain understanding of the human mind through the imperfect reflections created by machine learning.

David Ciccoricco updates us on the evolving story of BabyHex, a language learning simulator embodied in a virtual toddler. The digitally-interactive fiction explores the fraught nature of modelling when it comes to mechanising the mind, and the perpetual inversions between the model as that which imitates and that which is worthy of imitation. Chris Berthelsen and Makoto Yokomichi introduce us to their practice of tōjisha-kenkyū (当事者研究) – an alternative psychiatric approach developed in Japan where individuals use self study to explore their disabilities and/or mental illnesses. Berthelsen and Yokomichi’s presentation is a wild collage of images, prompt engineering, delusions, and conversations between them as they try to make sense (or not) of the portrayals generative AI produces. Their end goal – images that reflect how they see themselves and the world through their “cracked, grubby, faulty, and neuro-and-physically-specific lenses” rather than the smooth averages of AI majorities.

Paper: BabyHex: Reflections on Parenting Unruly AI

David Ciccoricco

David Ciccoricco is Associate Professor of English and Linguistics at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. His research draws on cognitive science and philosophy of mind to establish how fictional minds help explain actual ones.

Paper: AI-assisted and AI-addled Self Portrayals: Notes from ongoing explorations of the Japanese radical alternative psychiatric approach of tōjisha-kenkyū (当事者研究) through general-use AI

Chris Berthelsen and Makoto Yokomichi

Chris Berthelsen is an independent artist who likes to explore environments for creative activity, resident-led modification of the everyday environment, and alternative education(s). He is currently a researcher at Ehime University and a doctoral candidate at the Elam School of Fine Arts.

Makoto Yokomichi is an Associate Professor at the Kyoto Prefectural University. A researcher of literature, art, and humanities, he has used the radical Japanese alternative psychiatric approach of tōjisha-kenkyū to explore his autism and ADHD, publishing the experimental book Minnna mizu no naka (All in the Water) in 2021.