Welcome to 2017

I haven't written a blog post in nearly a year; hoping to change that in the new year. To get the ball rolling here are a few recent beginnings of new projects and updates on old ones.

Donald Trump was elected president and was sworn into office last Friday. Since then I have been using GitHub to keep a running list of what happens in government everyday.

Another project you can find on GitHub is my first attempt at a chat-bot, CocoaEliza. This is of course the beginning of yet another Eliza clone. We all have to start somewhere learning something new and why not with a classic? Hopefully this effort will eventually evolve into a new project in development, bot.dating. For a historical reference, the original Eliza chat-bot was by Joseph Weizenbaum who also wrote an excellent book titled “Computer Power and Human Reason” which covers his philosophy on what AI should and shouldn't do; an important read for anyone working in this field. You can also easily find an online version of Eliza to talk to.

Also on the topic of bots, though I did not take time to write about it at the time, last year I gave a talk about TVCommentBot and the future of television at Bot Summit in London. It was a wonderful conference and you can watch all of the presentations online. One of my related spin-off bots, TVFaceBot has recently reached 3000 followers. Though I've made several other small bots the only other one worth mention here was TheSoundOfBot created in memory of Pauline Oliveros, one of my teachers from RPI who passed away recently.

More to follow in the coming days, stay tuned!

TV Comment Bot

Last weekend I participated in an event here in Brooklyn called Art Hack Day where a bunch of artists and technologists with different skill sets all got together to implement new projects in 36 hours and finish with a gallery opening. I teamed up with David Newbury and Blair Neal on an installation we called “TV Helper” which is now also running as a Twitter-bot called TV Comment Bot.

The TV Helper is designed to make new TV shows out of existing ones by inserting new subtitle text over any video feed, replacing the original plot and dialogue of the show being watched. When possible the TV Helper algorithms will reference specific objects it “sees” in the video stream in the plot lines being created.

Additionally the genre of the new show can be a customized by the viewer using the set of provided knobs to be a mix of 8 different styles: Sports, News, Politics, Humor, Crime, NASCAR, Religion and Horror.

Here are some of my favorite results of feed from the home edition that is now running 24/7 since the Super Bowl on Feb 1st. You can find hundreds more on the Twitter feed.

If you're interested in hacking together a bit of this yourself, the two main tools used were the DeepBeliefSDK based analysis app that I wrote recently and this MadLibs generator created by David Newbury. We combined these using Quartz Composer / Syphon / OSC to create the simply text overlays for display.

The whole thing looked a bit like this behind the scenes:

Early display prototype.

Signal path sketch.

Software screenshot.

Testing, testing.

Me with the project!

Home edition.

Since this can run in real-time I'm also curious to try this out as an additional overlay during a VJ set in the future. We'll see how that goes.

Lastly a huge shout out to the Art Hack Day organizers for baby sitting all us artists while we worked. If you'd like to see more of the results from the event my friend Alejandro blogged about the awesome Oculus / Unity drowning game they made. You can find additional photos of the action (several of which are on this page!) on Margarida Malarkey's site.

[Update] Also on Art Hack Day: Deluge, read the details on the cool WiFi Taser by Max Henstell and another write up in this Makezine post.

[Update 2] Below are some more recent pictures from the Apple WWDC event, political press events and of course TV.