Narrative Intelligence

30 Oct 2021 02:15 - 21 Jul 2023 09:45
Open in Logseq
    • An academic subfield that I helped found, somewhat by accident. See here for the story and it spawned a book. Unfortunately since then I've had almost nothing to do with this field or anything remotely like it (with maybe one exception, see Software Studies).
    • Narrative intelligence got started as an underground reading group at the MIT Media Lab that some of my fellow grad students and I started. Broadly speaking we were asking two rather different but related questions:
      • How can narrative techniques be used to build better user interfaces and experiences?
      • Can ideas from narrative theory be used to improve our models of cognition and AI?
    • The first of these was more in line with the Media Lab's mission and probably more promising as a research topic; but it was the second that had my personal interest. Naively put: the standard cognitive science model considered the mind as a collection of facts about the world and machinery for making inferences with them; this had many problems but was so ingrained that it was hard to break out of. What if instead the mind was a collection of little stories or dramas that get replayed and reinterpreted through everyday action?
    • DARPA got interested: DARPA, STORyNet and the Fate of the War
      • What role do stories play in influencing political violence and to what extent? What function do narratives serve in the process of political radicalization and how do they influence a person or group’s choice of means (such as violence) to achieve political ends? How do stories influence bystanders’ response to conflict? Is it possible to measure how attitudes salient to security issues are shaped by stories?
      • How can we take stories and make them quantitatively analyzable in a rigorous, transparent and repeatable fashion? What analytic approaches or tools best establish a framework for the scientific study of the psychological and neurobiological impact of stories on people? Are particular approaches or tools better than others for understanding how stories propagate in a system so as to influence behavior?