For my final I want to start building an interactive, decentralized and web-based devotional space for human-machine hybrids.
Heart of the project is the talking stone, a piece I have been working on over the last semester already and showed at ITP Spring Show 2018. Now I would like to iterate on it in a virtual space, with a built in decentralized structure as a form of a “community”-backbone via the blockchain and as an interface geared towards future human entities.
The connection to universal randomness: a granite rock.
Rough draft of user interface (website):
And here the full system as an overview (as well a rough draft):
Here the basic setup: The rock is displayed via sockets as a Base64Stream on the website for logged in users. Users have to buy “manna” - tokens with Ethereum (in our case the Rinkeby-Testnet blockchain), then they get an audio-visual stream of decaying particles of the rock to start their meditation/devotion: The rhythm of particles decaying is happening - according to quantum theory - in a true random manner. Therefore the core of this devotional practice of the future is listening to an inherent truth. The duration of each “truth” - session is 10 minutes. I will have to see how “meditative” the random decay actually is - I remember it as pretty soothing to just listen to the particle decay that gets hammered into the rock with a solenoid, but I will have to find a more digital audio coloring for each particle decaying. That said - this piece is pure speculative design. I am interested in the future of devotional practice, especially for people who consider themselves non-religious. So trial and error is probably the way to go with this project as well.
If the user moves significantly from the prescribed meditation pose (Easy Pose — Sukhasana) in those 10 minutes, tokens get automatically consumed. The same happens if the user does not open a new ‘truth’ - session within 24 hours after finishing the last session.
On the screen, little dots display active users that are in a session as well. The size of the dots changes according to how much time they have left in their daily meditation practice.
The goal of this experimental devotional space is to give users an audio stimulation that is scientifically true and therefore easier to identify with - in a sense a random rhythm of the universe to meditate with. By buying into the practice with tokens, only dedicated users are using the space and their motivation to actually perform the mediation is higher as they paid for it. They only have to pay again if they do not perform the practice in a regular manner or interrupt a session.
The visuals will be dominated by code - as this is a devotional meeting place for future human-machine-hybrids that find peace and solitude in true randomness (the opposite of their non-random existence).
granite rock with geiger-counter attached to it
raspberry pi with camera running sockets to display rock and send random decay patterns
remote server running node.js and sockets
tensorflow.js running posenet
ethereum contract (solidity based) running on Rinkeby-Testnet (dev blockchain)
MetaMask chrome extension (to access blockchain from browser with a secure wallet)
That sounds like a lot to do in 6 weeks, but I want to give it a try. I experimented with blockchain and true randomness last semester already in two different projects and the current LiveWeb / Machine Learning for the Web classes seem a great framework to give this a virtual and AI guided setting. I am still a bit uncertain about the blockchain backbone as this is the part where I feel the least at home at the moment. I only remember fragments of Solidity, web3js and MetaMask, connecting all layers together was tricky and the documentation sparse. Well, we’ll see!