Website of the project: https://www.neurafutures.com
The installation is currently open to public starting September 25, 2023 at Cambridge Public Library.
NeuraFutures art installation features devices known as Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs). BCIs access the user’s brain via sensors that are worn on or implanted inside of the head. In today’s research, they are used to measure, support, and augment cognitive states such as fatigue, attention, and visualization. In the next few decades, the ubiquity of BCIs will be equivalent to that of mobile phones today, which emphasizes the urgent need to discuss the ethics of interacting with such systems. While this type of work is primarily conducted through public discussions among experts in computing fields, science fiction media provides another avenue of inspiration that we believe is equally important to the understanding of BCIs. We call science fiction media featuring BCIs - BCI-fis. BCI-fi is important to the societal acceptance of BCIs because it is the primary source of the public’s understanding of these technologies before they become real. As a result, BCI-fi has a lot of influence over our perception of the future. Our findings emphasize the necessity to properly prepare for our future of information and digital interactions; as we improve the speed and depth of computing, we risk the loss of simplicity, identity, and altruism—of everything that makes us human. We hope this installation exposes viewers to the everyday influences of the business of ubiquity and in turn sparks the questioning of their technological morals.
NeuraFutures as a whole is a large explorative project about the representation of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) in science fiction media.
We designed an immersive art installation based on these ideas and our data, which is open to the general public: for our installation, we ask the attendees to face these senses and awaken themselves to their own sociotechnological morals.
We have fabricated 35 real-size physical prototypes, or props, of the neural devices featured in different BCI-fi, each of which represents different permutations of answers to these senses and morals — essentially, different futures. These props are organized around the space, and this space is open for exploration. The public is also able to take a “FuturesTest” in which they make a series of choices about the future they hope or predict to see, the results of which is the prop in the space that is the most representative of their morals. The test requires users to consider new aspects of their identity and understand the ethics of AI and human-enhancement by asking questions about utopian vs. dystopian worlds, invasive vs. non-invasive technologies, and when they believe different neuratechnological events will happen. You may also take this test here: NeuraFutures Test.
Please check the project’s website, http://neurafutures.com, to learn more about the scientific advancements of brain sensing research in real life.
Installation lead: Dr. Nataliya Kosmyna.
Installation team: Mina Terzioglu, Huu Khiem Nguyen.
Past Contributors: Damien Socia, Anna Demko, Sophia Rim, Alexandra Li, Gabriella Nugent, Louis Hand, Zoe Wu, Yuran Ding, Marshall Wang.
Past members: Cassandra Scheirer, Rinako Sonobe, Nina Cragg, Shannon Murphy, Samuel Fromovitz, Jackie Sabillon, Tatiana Zhizhimontova.
This project is funded by The Council for the Arts at MIT (CAMIT): https://arts.mit.edu/camit/
Image Credit: Marshall Wang, Yuran Ding, Nataliya Kosmyna