Machine Intelligence & Generative Design

generative design, machine Intelligence, Uncategorized

With my new User Experience job at Redcom Laboratories, I throttled back on my courses to part-time status, and took two classes for Fall 2015 semester, and two classes for Spring 2016 semester. This has allowed me some breathing room for more thesis development, as one of the classes is on developing my problem statement and research.

So I returned to my previous work from a year ago, and see lots of holes and gaps in what I had previously done, which is a very good thing. Last summer I was able to work on some prototypes, and think more about what my thesis needs to explore. As I now see it, the issues of primary importance seem to be:

  • Exploration of our humanity and expansion of consciousness via the concept of Personal Transformation.
  • Use of Generative Design system(s) to provide the basis of the experience.
  • Machine Intelligence to provide the neural network and backbone for Generative Design system.

Personal Transformation Process

In her review of Personal Transformation as it relates to the field of nursing, Gail Holland Wade provided this synopsis in her 1998 article ‘A Concept Analysis of Personal Transformation.’  

Personal transformation is preceded by a disorienting dilemma that disrupts the order of one’s life (Ferguson 1980, Loder 1981, Wildemeersch & Lierman 1988, Busick 1989, Mezirow 1991). Anything that draws the individual into a mindful, watchful state produces a disorienting dilemma and the potential for transformation. Disorienting dilemmas may include stressful life experiences and transitions, relationships with individuals, a book, or a new environment (Ferguson 1980, Wildemeersch & Lierman 1988).

Journal of Advanced Nursing, Volume 28, Issue 4, pages 713–719, October 1998

Ferguson (et. al.) established that a stressful life experience or environment may lead to an opportunity for Personal transformation, but as Wade further points out in her article, her research indicated that, “for transformation to occur, the individual must make a deliberate choice to confront the conflict or dilemma.”

So essentially, you can’t make someone play ball if they don’t want to. And that’s fine. Participants can always have the choice, and not everyone with experience a catharsis. In fact, I would be shocked if it did. My intent would be to use Generative Design as a way to explore our humanity in new ways.

Machine Intelligence

As part of my ongoing research, I have slowly stumbled upon the concepts of machine learning and machine intelligence. This has lead me through various articles and programming languages related to AI and machine learning. It seems that there are many ways to take a bite at the apple, and I will definitely need some assistance in figuring out the right pathways to achieve my desired results.

I am also going to have to learn some additional programming languages like Python and Tensor Flow. I also came across some articles on Medium by Blaise Aguera y Arcas. Blaise is apparently a big deal in the machine intelligence world. He runs the machine intelligence research at Google. Google is also apparently very interested in how machine learning and the arts can work together. Hmmm… Interesting…

So what’s a grad student to do? Well, I sent him an email telling him about my project and asking a few questions about machine intelligence. Maybe he’ll answer me. Or maybe it was just a note in a bottle that is now adrift in the internet ether. Who knows…

Further Developments… The Monomyth & Generative Design

generative design, Processing, Thesis

The Monomyth or Hero Story

In the development of an interactive environment with any authenticity, it becomes necessary to have a particular point of view. It is imperative for it to express my own life experience, which is not so different from the experience of all people.

One of the benefits of growing older (I will soon celebrate my 42nd year of life on planet Earth) is that you can finally have some perspective on yourself and your past — both the positive and not–so–positive. You begin to see that the tale that we were told of being unique snowflakes is only partly true. At some point, you realize that we are all not so unique and unusual at all. You begin to understand that while the cast of characters, scenery and dialogue may change from person to person, we each play out strangely familiar plot lines in our individual lives.

“The usual hero adventure begins with someone from whom something has been taken, or who feels there is something lacking in the normal experience available or permitted to the members of society. The person then takes off on a series of adventures beyond the ordinary, either to recover what has been lost or to discover some life-giving elixir. It’s usually a cycle, a coming and a returning.”

– Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces

Aiding me in peeling back that layer of the onion, has been an understanding of the Monomyth (or Hero Story) by Joseph Campbell. Campbell wrote a great deal about the power of myth, and how the Hero Story is written into the most famous of fables, religions and literature. In dissecting these, Cambell explored how these timeless themes have shaped the lives of humans from the beginning of time. Campbell divided the Hero Story into 17 distinct stages which can be grouped into the phases of Departure, Initiation, and Return.

Generative Design

Generative Design is a completely new design system that utilizes modern computer languages such as Processing, vvvv, JavaScript and others to provide a framework for development of unique design systems with opportunities for multiple types of output.

In a 2012 lecture, Cedric Kiefer of onformative gave a brief overview of Generative Design — the captions are my own notes on his presentation:

Create a system to process inputs (data, sound, images, vectors, motion, video, etc) into outputs ( other data, sound, images, vectors, motion, video, etc.)

Create a system to process inputs (data, sound, images, vectors, motion, video, etc) into outputs ( other data, sound, images, vectors, motion, video, etc.)

There is no limit to the type of input you can use with a generative design system.

There is no limit to the type of input you can use with a generative design system.

Likewise, there is also no limit to the type of output produced in generative design.

Likewise, there is also no limit to the type of output produced in generative design.

It is even possible to use the output of a generative design system as an input through the system again!

It is even possible to use the output of a generative design system as an input through the system again!

In one example cited by Kiefer, using properties of physics, and data they were able to create a visualization of concept linkages.

In one example cited by Kiefer, using properties of physics, and data they were able to create a visualization of concept linkages.

They first started with programming the physics and physical properties so that the groups of concepts would "unfold" and not be blocked from view.

They first started with programming the physics and physical properties so that the groups of concepts would “unfold” and not be blocked from view.

This would create a concept tree.

This would create a concept tree.

They then were able to develop to same concept in 3D space.

They then were able to develop to same concept in 3D space.

They could then export the data for 3D rendering for other purposes such as motion graphics or film.

They could then export the data for 3D rendering for other purposes such as motion graphics or film.

The basic idea is that you can create infinite variations of designs by simply changing the inputs or the parameters of the software that will get tremendously different results from very small and simple changes. Those outputs can then be used in many different ways to examine or infer relationships, analyze and develop possibilities, draw conclusions, etc.

It is therefore at the discretion of the designer to create the design system and the manner in which information is processed and how the output is expressed.

 Incorporation Into The Thesis Project

In delving into the concept of the Monomyth, it could potentially serve as a backdrop for my thesis presentation. In creating an environment, I could potentially work to develop a “learning tool” through creation of a generative design environment. This would take a participant on a “Hero’s Journey” with accompanying stages. Through gamification, each person could work towards achieving the quest, and along the way learning small lessons, that can be put into practice at various stages of the environment.

With each phase of the game, the graphics would change and provide feedback to the participants of their progress and development. In addition, the challenges would become greater and more difficult as the game progresses.

As with all Monomyths, each individual could be on an individual quest. The lessons of which could be different from others. Ideally, I would like for all participants to understand the value of working together towards a common goal, and experiencing a sense of coming together to achieve a common goal.