Institute of Communications and Connected Systems


Black Box

Network connections out of focus text reading "Black Box"

As researchers, engineers, students, consumers and users we do not always step back to consider the wider implications of our drive to progress, enhance, re-engineer and advance. The creation of Black Box has brought together researchers, members of the public, artists and industry to consider just this. 

What are the intended and unintended impacts that new Artificial Intelligence technologies are having on our every-day lives and how should their permeation throughout society and lessons already learned inform the design of future products, technologies and systems?

In the world of Black Box, each of the five characters you’ll meet is unified by one unstoppable force. 

In a not-too-distant future, the company Kintex has rapidly become one of the biggest players in an increasingly tech-dominated world. The company plays a gargantuan role in the growth and development of technology driven by artificial intelligence, or as it is more commonly known, AI.

They provide everything from home assistants to social media, health services to police aids, robots big and small. You name it, Kintex’ll make it.

But what does such pervasiveness of AI mean for people’s everyday lives and the way they interact with the world around them? Shakespeare’s Hamlet suggests, ‘there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’ Black Box explores this, and the ways in which the ever-growing presence of new technologies dependent on artificial intelligence is undoubtedly reshaping our existence.

Network connections out of focus text reading "Black Box"
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A senior engineer for the technology conglomerate KINETIX, Mei-Lin has found herself entangled in a tragic accident at work and questioning if she is right to be feeling guilty

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A stay-at-home dad of two, Bryn is grateful for the support his virtual assistant 'Jenifer' can provide him but is facing a dilemma as to what level Jenifer should really play in the family dynamic

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A lawyer who fights to ensure her clients are fairly treated by the legal system, Simone is facing new technology in the courtroom and is questioning if this approach really provides fair and unbiased justice

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A data-aware student, fed up of being talked down to, Aleena is well aware of the good things new AI technology can do, but wishes her friends would open their eyes to what their collective data could do

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A widower in his late 60s, Johnathan has felt somewhat reassured by the technology monitoring his health, but when his virtual assistant ‘Jenifer’ tells him to visit the GP he struggles to understand some of the decisions

Network connections out of focus text reading "Farah Najib"
The Black Box series of monologues was written by Farah Najib and produced by Theatre of Debate for the Institute of Communications and Connected Systems at UCL and UCL Culture's Performance Lab.
The Monologues were informed by a generator workshop attended by members of industry, public, and researchers from across the UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences in the summer of 2019.
The Monologue generation was supported and funded by UCL Culture’s Performance Lab, the production was supported and funded by the UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering and the UCL Institute of Communications and Connected Systems.  We would like to thank everyone who participated for their contribution.