What if you had a companion to help you navigate the complexities of the digital world?
Built by — FIELD.SYSTEMS
FIELD.SYSTEMS is a creative studio in London and Berlin. As artists, designers and consultants, they explore the aesthetics of the near future and how technology changes the way we live our lives – working with code and data, moving image and interaction, sculptural and spatial experiences.
Digital Buddy would leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) to create a 3D avatar to help protect your interests and privacy online. As third parties control more and more of our lives online, Digital Buddy would be a permanent companion – an entity independent of any brand or platform – performing with your best interest in mind. Someone to act as an advisor, providing guidance and breaking down the many complexities that come with living in an increasingly digital world.
'Researchers often claim that the phrase "I have read, and accept the terms and conditions" is the biggest lie on the internet.'
If one thing represents the growing opacity of online interactions, it's the always-changing and ever-lengthening terms and conditions (T&C) of digital services. Excessive word counts and complicated legal language mean many people never bother to read the small print but accept them nonetheless. We often have no option but to do so if we want to interact socially or work professionally online. This leaves us with little opportunity to challenge them and resigned to an unfortunate tradeoff of data for access. Digital Buddy would tackle this dilemma, making users aware of their legal rights. It would empower you by clarifying the terms and conditions of platforms, letting you make informed decisions about whether to use the services or not.
Behind the scenes of the data collection from human face and motion capture suits.
Digital Buddy would use NLP Neural networks to analyse the complex texts of T&C, condensing and translating them into more accessible language via a Natural Language Generator such as GPT-3. Using a text-to-speech neural network to synthesise its voice, your Buddy would communicate the more easily understood versions of the T&C in a friendly and understandable manner. Over time, your Buddy would also learn about your values and preferences, acting independently to review T&C and quickly highlighting any serious concerns. Although there are situations where your Digital Buddy could take action, its primary focus is that of raising awareness around privacy issues, unfair conditions and other red flags.
'Exploring how AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP), together with real-time embodied avatars, can break down complex language into an understandable, relatable form of communication that can be universally understood.'
Unlike many existing assistants, Digital Buddy would take the form of an embodied persona. To make the character's animation feel more natural, data collected from motion capture suits would be used to model its movements. By taking full advantage of these embodied capabilities, the avatar could convey complex information both verbally and visually, incorporating nuanced emotion and gestures.
'Early attempts at providing anthropomorphic digital assistants failed as they tended to be perceived as undermining individuals' autonomy and appearing judgemental or patronising.'
Digital Buddy would convey its knowledge both verbally and visually, communicating its activity through a morphing body shape and expressive exterior. Rather than a simple "interface", it would allow its owner to get a sense of what is going on, building a more robust and more emotional connection and streamlining interactions by adapting to the person's way of using it, not the other way around.
Building on the fact that we have already let digital assistants into our homes, this application would explore what it means to live with a more embodied AI. Similar to how we now rely on Google maps to navigate our physical world, we could embrace new and alternative types of digital assistants that can help us choose who and what to trust online.
Digital Guardian visual experiments.
'In order to truly trust your Digital Buddy, you need to be able to read its virtual cues and build a relationship with it. This is why the human motion-captured movements behind our character are so important.'