So much more than a talking doll

This isn’t a documentation of work at the moment, but is an idea/work in progress. A while ago I came across this toy doll ‘Cayla’, although an ordinary doll in appearance, Cayla is, as her creators put it ‘so much more than a talking doll’. Cayla is a ‘smart’ doll, connected to the internet and able to respond directly to the questions that she is asked by searching online, much like siri or echo.

One of the main reasons that I am drawn to the toy is that, as a doll, she is inevitably modelled on the human from and therefore in many ways is the mind of the internet presented physically in the form of a young girl. In particular, I find it highly amusing that the mass of information present on the internet now ‘belongs’ to this doll, making her more intelligent perhaps than all the philosophers and academics in history in the sense that she has access to information that surpasses the capabilities of any human. This to me is fascinating and really embodies many of the ideas that have surrounded this project.

As a child’s toy however, she inevitably has certain filters and limits that are put in place in order to avoid certain explicit content. I am currently collaborating with a Computer Scientist in order to try and remove this and work with her in order to alter her responses. If we are successful in doing this, then I envisage Cayla being somehow involved in my degree show. I quite like the idea that she could act as a ‘gallery assistant’ and interact with viewers and talk to them about my show. This may be a larger task than anticipated, but is something I am working towards.

(It’s worth noting that Cayla has been in trouble and is largely becoming unpopular because she is also a spy)

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