© 2022

Limbus: Questioning Human/Artificial Intelligence Futures In VR

Project LIMBUS
Issue 001 INSIGHT



Two outcomes, two polarising simulated environments. Welcome to utopia. Welcome to dystopia.

Limbus traverses through virtual reality. It experiments with the present, the future, and a question. What are the potential outcomes of integrating artificial intelligence into society? Artificial intelligence (AI) is made up of more than one component. A machine thinking like a human and a machine acting like a human or a machine thinking rationally and a machine acting rationally. The approaches - human and ideal, respectively - explore the possible roles of artificial intelligence that go beyond machine learning.

AI lives and breathes alongside humans, increasingly used and well integrated into society. Tracking human behaviours, increasing security, boosting autonomous supply chains, enhancing innovation. Data is tracked, monitored, collected and mined. It is stored in the cloud, archived and when appropriate, disposed of. AI has two sides. One that breeds innovation and one that poses a threat.

Limbus experiments with these two sides of AI and presents three questions.

How can humans and technology harmoniously coexist?
How can we find balance with the usage of AI in our communities?
What would be the worst case scenario?

AI sits at a delicate intersection, between human life and artificial life. The other side and third component would be natural life. Whilst we programme spaces towards biophilic design that interacts and integrates nature and natural life, AI travels a different route. Will technology advance human life by increasing accuracy and accessibility, are the two components interdependent or are they mutually exclusive? If AI embeds itself deeply across our systems, does technology begin to disrupt human life and its core principles?

We constantly look towards innovation - unique, improved and interconnected systems that progress society and ways of living. Limbus interrogates these polarising scenarios. Will AI create a balance across spaces, removing anonymity that breeds hate and harnessing the power of accountability? Will AI systems erase behaviours fuelled by power and greed, and restore equality and community? Is there such a state, in which AI is completely integrated in an effortless, fluid and unrestrictive manner? A machine is taught by example from a programmer, a machine learns and replicates. The implications for AI are then unparalleled.

Yet, each question eventually reaches a crossroads. What could be the outcome? Is the worst case scenario merely a decline in human interactions, or could it be a deeper detachment between human beings and human life? Will AI facilitate division, inequality and the absence of free will? A system that maneuvers data, using it to benefit the few and harm the many. Is the environment utopian or dystopian?

Without the choice of an inbetween, Limbus pushes you towards critical thinking and embeds you within these two environments. You inhabit utopia or dystopia. A set of glyphs that represent a harmonious or turbulent society. An intense and imagined visual landscape, enriched by voice overlays.

You inhabit utopia. A fusion of purple and blue, a soft inviting palette, a bright, open space. A lofi beat that settles in the background, whilst you traverse across this imagined, fulfilling space. An environment with justice, transparency, and accountability. One where technology and data systems provide and facilitate. A society that is well-balanced and advanced.  

State censorship is not necessary anymore. There is no more fraud, hate or discrimination on the internet. How is this even possible? Here’s how it works. Everyone has one verified internet persona, connected to their ID and their IP address. This means that people are finally held accountable for their actions online.

A digitalised world is a transparent world. A connected world. Why would a nation commit crimes against humanity when the proof is instantly visible to everyone. This works on a smaller scale too. There is no incentive to commit crimes when justice is guaranteed.

Words taken from voice recordings in Limbus Utopia

You inhabit dystopia. Grey, moody, desolate. A rough surface, and a looming drone heard in the background. An environment with waste, upheaval and an absence of choice. One where systems track, feed and monitor data continually. A society that sets individuals apart, creates barriers and threatens.

Our cloud systems become insatiable, devouring the endless amount of data we feed them. But what does that have to do with our world's crisis you ask? Well, in order to fuel those clouds we need energy, enormous amounts of energy. Energy we still draw from our natural resources. But in this reality, nobody cares.

We are being watched every second of every day. Whether consciously by cameras tracking and analysing our every move or less obviously through our purchases, likes, dislikes, what we share online - everything is being tracked to a tee. And when it’s not technology - visible or invisible - that's making us feel like lab rats, it’s people's distrust in each other that creates a breeding ground for AI to thrive on.

Words taken from voice recordings in Limbus Dystopia

Limbus is an experiment, a simulation and an invitation. What is our connection to technology as it advances? What will our integrated technological future look like?

Limbus is a VR project by Maika Dieterich and Deniz Tütüncübasi, with overlayed voice recordings by Zaya Z. It is a work of critical design and thinking, a stunning visual exploration, and a moving project. Limbus pushes boundaries, it encourages conversation and rethinking about technological progress, human life, and environments of the future.

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