20 Jun An Interview with ALEX WIP: Concept
Having finished my thesis project—”ALEX, Your Best Friend at Work“—I decided to start a new project this summer based on the world-building of my thesis. The new project will be in the browser, easy to share, and will put the user in the center of the narrative.
With the thesis project, I felt that there was still a lot of room for integrating user interaction into storytelling. I started to do that a little bit in the participatory part of my thesis project, but it was more of an experiment than a satisfying story.
I used the Mozilla Creative Media Awards application as an opportunity and motivation for myself to initiate the new project. Below is the description of my concept that is included in my submission:
“An Interview with ALEX” is a 10-15 minute, guided, interactive experience in the browser that engages the audience in a job interview with ALEX, a powerful artificial intelligence HR employed by a speculative tech giant called “Open Mind Playground.” Through a science-fiction lens, the experience reveals how companies can exploit machine learning to—veil the true purpose of a job, extract the maximum amount of labor from its workers, and censor information under the radar—by gamifying the work process, applying filters to employees’ information intake, and generating customized distractions.
The project deals with the following themes:
- Gamification. Work is play.
From the electronic tracking system at Disney’s Resort Hotel to the handheld devices and scorecards that track employees’ productivity at Amazon, gamification, coupled with the latest technology, is used by employers to manage workers and maximize efficiency. However, as stated in Vincent Gabrielle’s article Gamified Life, “gamification’s trapping of total fun masks that we have very little control over the games we are made to play – and hides the fact that these games are not games at all.”
In “An Interview ALEX”, gamification is taken to the extreme with help from AI and machine learning. Work literally equals playing games. The absurdity comes in as the user discovers the games are not as simple or innocent as seem and are used to trick them into doing tasks that are less attractive or even against their values.
- Unauthorized Data Collection
The company (Open Mind Playground) in my project collects all kinds of data from its employees without explicit consent. From conversations to body movements, every aspect of a worker’s life is monitored, and evaluated by the artificial intelligence HR manager (ALEX).
- Filters and Distractions
To prevent employees from knowing the truth about their jobs, information filters, and entertainment videos are custom-made in the fictional world of my project to keep the workers busy, distracted, and in their comfort zones. The more data ALEX collects, the better it gets at generating effective content and suitable filters to keep the workers in their bubbles.