No matter how personable AI assistants like Siri, Alexa, or Google Home are programmed to be, Lauren McCarthy's 'Lauren' project shows that they're still miles away from competing with real human beings. The artist and UCLA assistant professor's performance art project puts herself in the position of one of those smart home assistants; for three days at a time, she personally puts herself in charge of a volunteer's home, working to make their lives easier and more comfortable in whatever way they see fit.
The Lauren project requires volunteers to install a series of smart home appliances and cameras throughout the accepted volunteer's home. These include smart lights, thermostats, music connectivity, locks, faucets, and more. She also installs microphones and speakers so that they can communicate with one another openly.
The project considers how people feel about and respond to the idea of complete control by an external authority.
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