Training Set

'Training Set' is a research project and work in progress that uses interactive audio and sculpture to explore the use of artificial intelligence as a solution to difficult and complicated human problems such as loneliness and anxiety. The project highlights how and why automated assistant technologies attempt to imitate and commodify gendered forms of work such as emotional, organisational and domestic labour.

(c) Elisa Georgi / (c) Sarah Ciston

Training Set Prototype 1 (Clay, silicone, latex, oil and spray paint, echo dot smart speaker, instructions on paper).

In Prototype #1, found “skills” from Amazon’s Alexa are highlighted as examples of the trope of the virtual girlfriend. Exhibition visitors could activate a vocal response from the mouth sculpture by saying one of the example phrases listed on the wall beside it.

Historically under-recognised and un/underpaid feminised forms of labour are being simulated, simplified and packaged as a sellable product in the emerging fields of voice user interface design and natural language understanding/processing.

To reflect this, in the wider project a series of fictional personas are being ‘trained’ to offer conversations on specific themes and topics by creating custom “skills” via Amazon’s developer console: a domestic assistant, virtual girlfriend, therapist and reproductive health assistant.

The underlying shared goal of each training set is to subtly encourage behaviours of self-quantification and optimisation, to increase our capacity or willingness to produce and consume in techno-capitalist society.

Training Set Prototype 1: virtual girlfriend Installation viewat Another New Beginning group exhibition, Stenkolsateljén Göteborg 2022

Beskrivning på Svenska:

Det pågående projektet "Training Set" består av 4 karaktärer i form av kvinligga munnar upssatta på vägg (i silikon, latex och lera) med smarta högtalare gömda inom sig. Varje karaktär har varsin "skill" (funktion) som man aktiverar genom att säga en specifik fras. Skräddarsydda "skills" är gestaltade genom Amazon developer console (för Alexa högtalare), och dem representerar olika typer av feminiserat arbete som smarthögtalare nuförtiden försöker imitera: emotionellt och omsorgs arbete (som en digital flickvän/terapeut), reproduktion (fortplantning) samt hushållsarbete.

With support from Göteborgs Stad 

Documentation of Training Set “conversation booths” and research materials, various locations at ZK/U OPENHAUS, Berlin 2022.

At ZK/U OPENHAUS, visitors were invited to interact with 4 Training Set prototypes by asking them scripted questions and receiving spoken curtomised answers.

Rosie Domestic helper, ZK/U entrance hall

(c) Elisa Georgi

Freja reproductive health assistant, ZK/U first floor hallway

Eliza’s therapy room and research materials (moodboards for each character, mind map of reference materials on wall), Studio 11 

Image from Amazon Alexa Developer console 

Mia’s virtual girlfriend experience + youtube showreel of research materials, Studio 11 bedroom

(c) Elisa Georgi

International Residency at Zentrum Für Kunst und Urbanistik (ZK/U) Berlin was supported by Helge Ax:son Johnsons stiftelse, Konstnärsnämnden and Västra Götalands Regionen.