Digital Culture

Roleplaying AI and Technology

Jon Andreas Edland developed "Ettersynsing" as a practical master thesis in Digital Culture. Last week he ran it for AI scientists and developers at NORA's annual conference.

Personer sitter rundt et bord
A screen displays messages from Intelligensen, the benevolent AI that runs this society. The messages help drive the action forwards.
To personer presenterer en vitenskapelig poster.
Jill Walker Rettberg, UiB
Bilde av en tekst
Mann I stol med skjerm og juletre.

Main content

At the annual conference of the Norwegian Artificial Intelligence Research Consortium (NORA), conference participants were invited to attend a family dinner in a future governed by a benevolent AI, the Intelligence. In the Christmas-decorated living room at Grand selskapslokaler, a group of AI researchers and developers were assigned roles by Jon Andreas Edland, who then led them through the live role-playing game Ettersynsing, which Edland has developed as part of his master's project in digital culture.

"Being able to work on a practical master's thesis was both very liberating and provided me with useful constraints," says Jon Andreas Edland.

"I had the freedom to do something more unconventional by getting away from study halls and computers, and I was constrainted to a project with a clear goal. I really appreciated the interconnection of theory and practice.

Ettersynsing is part of the project  Machine Vision: Exhibition and Role-Playing Games for Exploration of Ethics and New Technology, which is funded by the Research Council of Norway through the FORSTERK programme, which aims to increase the impact in Norway of EU-funded research. The project develops a series of larps (live action roleplaying games) for both adults and children, and  Ettersynsing is intended as a short larp that can be played at conferences with participants who do not have experience  larping. The goal is to put the participants in situations that allow them to think creatively about ethics and technology. 

Edland is currently taking a year of teacher training, and plans to teach Norwegian in high school when he is finished. When asked whether he will use roleplaying as a teacher, his answer is clear:

- Definitely – I am already actively engaged in role-playing in my spare time, and at the time of writing I am taking PPU at the University of Bergen, where I am training to become a Norwegian teacher. The communicative ability and ability to learn through experience that larp and other role-playing games provide is something I want to include in the classroom and allow my students to experience —I refuse to become a teacher who writes only on the board and "lecturer" for the students!

Edland's master's thesis is available as PDF at Bergen Open Research Archive: To see the world in a new way: Laiv as an educational tool in machine vision ethics. Here you will find both the actual texts used in the larp and an evaluation of how it worked. Since completing his master's degree in June 2021, Edland has been employed as a research assistant to further develop the material, and a revised version will be published soon.