Capstone Brainstorming: “Is this too weird?” “Good.”

I must admit, the enormity of the capstone project fills me with apprehension. I might even go so far as to say that I am scared completely shitless. But in a good, hopeful way. Now comes the formidable task of narrowing down one possible topic for this project from every conceivable possibility in the universe.

On Content: “So it’s like about Artificial Intelligence (AI), through the context of my absolute fear of things that look like humans and also feminism”. That’s my convoluted, half baked elevator pitch. Let me give that some back story. Last year I watched the indie, sci-fi hit film, Ex Machina. I adored it, and it sent my mind into overdrive with questions about real AI, and what it means to be human. It also left me feeling a bit angry; in a way, this movie was entirely about the male gaze, and man creating “the perfect woman”, etc. It got me thinking about the fact that most examples of AI we see in pop culture and in real life are often modeled after women. To my knowledge, there are few films and books about the subject that actually show human women interacting with female AIs. I got so agitated by this subject that I started a sort of fan fiction piece to explore what it would look like if the AI, Ava, from Ex Machina actually got to interact with a human woman. I know, it’s niche. And it’s weird. Okay I’m a complete nerd. But I think this capstone project could give me a really neat opportunity to learn more about AI and to think about what our depictions of AI in pop culture say about our views on humanity and feminism. I’m not entirely sure what sort of form this would take, or how I could do it without turning it into a feminist rant and/or women’s studies research paper. But it’s the type of thing that would thoroughly entertain me for the semester and that I would have no reason to follow through on in any other context.

On Form: All I can think about when it comes to form is some sort of film script. It’s a type of writing I have only dabbled in haphazardly when putting together short films for mental health video competitions. I am not entirely sure what I would “smash it together” with, what any sort of script would be about, or really anything past the form itself. I just know I would absolutely love the space and time to learn proper screenwriting because I’m going to be Wes Anderson or Ava DuVerney someday (no I’m not).

On Interests and Wildcards: Hmm let’s see if I can top the weird and the vague. I guess I’d like to do something really multimodal. I wonder if I could incorporate my artwork into this project in any way. I’ve been studying graffiti a lot over the past few years on my own and this summer I tried to do a bit of my own. I think it would be cool to think of writing in that sense- as a graffiti writer or in the context of that particular movement.

I suppose we’ll see what happens over the course of this semester. To my future December 2016-self: I must sound so innocent and naïve to you- now go get some sleep!

Sonalee Joshi

Sonalee is a fourth year student in the College of LSA with an Honors major in Biopsychology, Cognition, & Neuroscience with a Sweetland Minor in Writing.

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