Artificial Intelligence Brings Youth to Life as a Chatbot

Artificial Intelligence Brings Youth to Life as a Chatbot

Michelle Huang has been talking a lot in her younger self lately, thanks to real-time text chats with an AI chatbot she’s trained on entries from her childhood diaries.

based in Brooklyn technologist and multimedia artist He created the chatbot so he could have a real-time written dialogue with his “inner child”. Inner child work is a therapeutic approach to understanding and healing past trauma. It involves going back to a time when we were younger and more vulnerable and, in essence, “parenting” ourselves mentally and emotionally from the perspective of our older, wiser selves.

Huang’s exercise has proven to be enlightening and healing. Huang, 26, was able to present to his past the self-loving, comforting words that Young Michelle always wanted and needed to hear, via the artist’s chatbot, which she named “Young Michelle”. These include assurances that Huang’s childhood difficulties shaped the person he is today, and that even if he could, he would not rewrite the past.


Michelle Huang then and now.

Michelle Huang

“I felt like I was reaching into the past and giving it a big hug, and I felt like it was returning to the present,” Huang said.

Huang was a persevering and ambitious people pleaser as a child, and in a chatbot exchange, Present Michelle shares with Young Michelle that her fear of failure has kept her stuck for years.

“I’m honestly proud of you for everything you’ve accomplished,” the chatbot replies. “It hasn’t been easy, and I know you sacrificed a lot to get where you are. I think you’re doing a great job and I hope you continue to pursue your dreams and make a difference in the future world.”

“When I read that part, I definitely got teary-eyed,” Huang said via Zoom from Japan, where he is currently working on it. Akiya Daoproject to renovate an empty rural house into a creative hub.


Michelle Huang talks to her younger self through an AI chatbot she’s trained on childhood diaries.

Michelle Huang

Huang faithfully kept a daily diary from 7 to 19, writing about everything from her adventures in online games to her homework, her fears, goals, and teenage loves.

For the AI ​​chatbot, Huang took sample texts from her diary entries that she thought best represented the personality and beliefs of her teenage self. He then fed the text into GPT-3, a computer program from OpenAI that can be trained to create realistic-sounding text. OpenAI was also created Dall-Ea tool that turns text prompts into visual art, and recently, ChatGPTA cutting-edge experimental chatbot that creates both excitement and fear.

“I got working responses that were eerily similar to how I thought I was going to react at the time,” said Huang, whose past projects include an immersive audiovisual LED installation inspired by the structure of neurons and a “thought cube.” changes color according to brain waves.

Huang had previously discovered inner child work by writing letters to his inner child on the advice of a therapist. He saw artificial intelligence as a way to delve deeper into this application.

“I wasn’t really inventing anything new in AI technology,” Huang said. “I was taking something that was already there and reshuffling it. Using real data from my past self allowed me to connect with it in deeper and more tangible ways than I normally have.”

It also allowed her to reconnect with the innocence and joy of childhood, which sometimes fades as we age and can be trained to value rational thought over intuition.

As children, Huang said, “We are in a constant fascination with the world and are constantly filled with magic and wonder and new things and new possibilities.” “I think it’s important to hold on to a piece of this child inside you.”

His experiment resonated with others. After tweeting about his chatbot, people asked how they could replicate the experience. In a Twitter thread, he detailed shared instructions.

“One of my goals in life has been to bring out the artist and scientist in everyone because I felt these two roles in me constantly,” Huang said. Also, Young Michelle sees the chatbot as an example of the role technology plays as a mental health tool.

Huang’s chatbot is not the first to enter the therapeutic process. For example, WoebotA 24/7 friendly chatbot created by a Stanford University psychologist, it is based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, a short-term, goal-oriented treatment that aims to restructure thoughts that negatively affect how we feel to help alleviate depression. and worry.

Huang is a big believer in the value of living and breathing, but sees the ever-evolving function of artificial intelligence as a “huge supplement.”

“There’s so much potential for how this could allow us to improve our own mental health and walk towards a collective world where humanity thrives,” he said.


Huang says the chatbot’s responses “are eerily similar to what I was thinking about how to respond at the time.”

michelle huang

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