Ghost In The Machine

GITM is an interactive AI installation that delves into the human tendency to anthropomorphize AI and the complex relationship between humans and machines.

On May 26th, 2023, Ghost In The Machine (GITM), an art installation, was opened to the public at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Created by Purav Bhardwaj and Misha Sra, the installation delves into the human tendency to anthropomorphize artificial intelligence (AI). The concept of holon emphasizes that humans and machines are not isolated entities but rather interconnected elements within a larger system. Understanding their relationship through a holonic lens recognizes the dynamic, symbiotic nature of human-machine interactions, and the reciprocal influences that shape their evolution.

Using AI, the installation creates an environment filled with generative images, sound, and spoken responses, all synthesized by a collection of AI agents. The agents are designed to have distinct personalities and skills to enable diverse and nuanced dialogues between them that reflect the complexities of human communication. Participants engage with this collective AI-generated simulacra of personas with their conversations brought to life through immersive moving images. The installation attempts to forge an embodiment for an amorphous AI allowing spectators to experience the peculiar errors in the AI's comprehension through a visual metaphor of hallucinations revealing the limitations of our perception of agency and intentionality in the world around us.

The art installation is a timely reminder of the profound impact of AI on our daily lives and its limitations that we hope further the ethical and philosophical debates about the implications of its use. Through GITM, Bhardwaj and Sra offer a unique perspective on the complex dynamics between human and machine intelligence and invite us to question our fundamental understanding of consciousness and the world around us, conveying the complexity through the immersive, ever-changing sounds and visuals that challenge our perception of AI.

Ghost In The Machine is a thought-provoking and profound artistic exploration of the ontological duality of AI and its impact on our collective psyche. It offers a unique and innovative approach to examining the complex relationship between humans and machines, opening a space for dialogue and reflection about the implications of AI in our present and our future.


Purav is a Master's student at the National Institute of Design in India.

Misha graduated with a PhD in 2018 from the Fluid Interfaces group at the MIT Media Lab working with Prof Pattie Maes. She is now an Asst Prof in the CS department at UCSB where she directs the Human-AI Integration Lab

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