Image credit: ©Cristina Vatielli for Ultravioletto

Facing your AI self at the 'Neural Mirror' art installation

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    Image credit: ©Cristina Vatielli for Ultravioletto

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    Italian design studio Ultravioletto has created a mirror that lets you see yourself the way corporations see you: as a collection of data points. At first, the Neural Mirror installation (located at a former church in the Italian city of Spoleto), seems like an ordinary mirror. But after you've been duly scanned and processed (with the system estimating your age, sex and emotional state) you'll quickly see something else; a ghostly vision of a machine's idea of who you are.

    Ultravioletto used some interesting tech to create the installation. The "mirror" is actually an OLED panel with a reflective coating that can act as both a mirror and a display, along with a depth-sensing camera. It generates an eerie, Matrix-like doppleganger of the visitor, while displaying (and printing) creepy data about their ethnicity, facial geometry, facial expressions and more. "The amazing thing is that these technologies are available for everybody," Ultravioletto's Bruno Capezzuoli told Dezeen.

    The end result is pretty dramatic. According to the video, above, you first see your true reflection, then a digital you that's quickly assembled by the system. As you move your body, face and hands, the artificial version moves along with you. The AI system chooses the style and colors for the image based on the data that it captures. The printed data, meanwhile, is presented in JSON JavaScript-type code.

    If it seems like the system is stealing your personal info to create the image, that's exactly the point. "Artificial intelligence extracts all of our behaviors in a shady way then transforms them into a form of wealth for corporations. Here this process is well declared and explained to the user. They can see in real time what kind of data we are capturing," said Capezzuoli.

    Unlike, say, Facebook or Google, Neural Mirror is up-front about what it's doing, and is using your data for art, not commerce. As it's set in a former church, the installation is designed to make you reflect (as it were) on the use of such invasive technology in the modern age. "For us it remains as bare knowledge, not refined, the beauty of data as data, with no interpretation," said Capezzuoli.

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