First we go into the cubicle that perfects your face. We take it in turns and snap photos of each other morphing. The perfection algorithm thinks my eyes need to be much bigger, more alien. And my lips need to have more of a wiggle shape, not so human. The algorithm tells me I’m 32, female, an introvert. It tells me I rate 90% for weirdness and 0% for aggression. The attendant tells us that everyone gets a low responsibility rating.
We look at a storyboard of an imagined utopia for the elderly. In utopia, your trembling hands generate electricity so you are never billed again. Coughs score high in sports and make beautiful music and can be harnessed to craft popular vases. In utopia your disease is a nature documentary. In utopia you leave the secret of your emotions on an ice lolly and watch it grow into a garden.
In another room, someone has manipulated the code of a computer game so that American troops and ISIS fighters march peacefully side by side. They form a long bobbing caterpillar through the desert, marching and marching to a tune only they can hear. We tell an attendant we found it mesmeric and he’s surprised. He says no one else has commented on that.
Then we come to my favourite exhibit, in which a robot must keep plants alive at the bidding of a blind elephant fish. The fish emits audible electrical pulses and the robot listens. The robot must interpret these pulses as instructions, as horticultural guidance. The robot must do what the fish says. The wall label explains that despite the robot’s technological sophistication, it exists only in one dimension, a slave to the blind elephant fish’s whims. We, too, listen to the fish’s pulses, but only we are free to leave.
A version of this post was sent by email on the 4th November 2018 as part of Internet Care Package.
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