Haunted Dolls and Things

Recently I’ve been thinking mostly – but somewhat disjointedly – about haunted dolls as relational to AI and various societal-level fears. The doll as feminine artifact rendered creepy by autonomous movement and malicious intent is drawing parallels for me to visions of consumer-level AI – which frequently is embodied feminized labor – disrupting human civilization, both on the level of job displacement and as genocidal overlords. Many questions arise. At what depth of the uncanny valley does misogyny lie? On what level are we as a society afraid that factory workers and truck drivers are being emasculated by machines and at what level are we genuinely concerned about joblessness and the negative externalities of creative destruction? How much are baseless fears of AI – akin to fear of paranormal and unknown – tangled in with worthwhile critiques and concerns, and how should AI policy and practice be formulated taking this intermingling into consideration?

This is a puzzle that I want to play with so I’ve been wanting to make some kind of “haunted doll” and to put inside it a camera with face tracking and servos that allow for head movement to do the kind of “Scooby Doo” project but then also put in a microphone and speaker connected to a Raspberry Pi running the Amazon Alexa API. Voila, a creepy Amazon Echo.

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