Goodnight, Melancholy

Description (in English)

This short story weaves intimate scenes from the near future of domestic automation and mental health with a fictionalized account of Alan Turing's dialogues with the conversational AI program Christopher. Inspired by Turing's ideas, "Goodnight, Melancholy" blurs the boundaries between reality and fiction by questioning the degree of intimacy and understanding achievable between humans and artificial intelligence. The anonymous woman protagonist of the story unpacks Nocko, a new AI-powered seal-shaped toy and introduces him to her psychological support robot Lindy, then takes them for a walk, spends her days surrounded by automated care-taking technologies, and eventually takes her robot companions to Disneyland. On a parallel narrative plane, Alan Turing spends the last days of his life discussing philosophical concepts and personal matters with a program he himself invented.


Pull Quotes

Nocko turned his fuzzy little head to regard us, his high-speed cameras scanning, analyzing Lindy’s form. I could almost hear the computations churning in his body. His algorithms were designed to respond only to speaking subjects.

Lindy observed Nocko carefully. Her eyes were two black buttons, and the cameras were hidden behind them. I hadn’t bothered to sew a mouth for her, which meant that her facial expressions were rather constrained, like a princess who had been cursed to neither smile nor speak.

The door opened, and an iVatar entered, gliding silently along on hidden wheels. A crude, cartoonish face with an empty smile was projected onto its smooth, egg-shaped head. I knew that behind the smile was a real person, perhaps someone with deep wrinkles on their face, or someone still young but with a downcast heart. In a distant service center I couldn’t see, thousands of workers wearing telepresence gloves and remote-sensing goggles were providing domestic services to people across the globe.

Situation machine vision is used in

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