There are so many things to figure out when creating an extraterrestrial who can talk back to you. I’m trying not to think about how much I have to solve in a few short weeks! For now I’m taking it one piece at a time because I’m terrified I will not succeed at this. The project will either build the character or be character building for me in my failure!

My research has begun for the physical parts that need to be built. I will need to order them in the next day or two so I will have to finalize them, but at least the items are on my radar. And although the programming is something that makes me nervous for this project, I have found the code thanks to Lauren that brings speech to text in Chrome. AND I found more than one option when I searched for code written to search for key words in Java Script. So although I know I will run into many coding problems, I think the stuff I truly have no idea how to do, I can find the code to make them work.

I’ve been focusing on Artificial Intelligence conceptually and building my character and interaction. The Most Human Human by Brian Christian has been an incredible resource. I have also spoken to people much wiser than me for other great resources. I am really excited to read both The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil and Virtually Human: The Promise and the Peril of Digital Immortality by Martine Rothblatt.


As a research junkie, the reading truly expands my mind and helps me consider the best approach for designing interactive characters. I have also begun to brainstorm the set up to the conversation and the character’s personality.  As I consider moving forward from here, I still need to research more the users’ interest in the interaction. What direction will they want to go in? What will work for them and what will not? I received twenty two different responses to my survey, some of which gave me numerous questions to ask the alien, but that still seems pretty tip of the iceberg. And I’m struggling with my word choice for his dialogue. He is going through a translator so he can potentially use bigger words, but my decisions on his personality make me think of him as erudite in English. That said, he is not a native English speaker. Should the translation machine force him to speak in simpler words? This would change the feel of the character a bit from what I have in my head. I am also talking to an actor friend of mine who would be perfect to play him if we can fit the recording time into his schedule.

Unfortunately, I do not feel completely ready for my User Test in ICM class today because the alien is not fully formed yet. I really need another week of brainstorming and writing before I can truly put this character on his feet, but I do have a lot of questions that can help further my choices.

What do you want to ask the alien?

Does my set up for the interaction make sense to you?

Does it work making him speak like an educated human since it’s through a translator? Or does his word choice need to reflect that he’s not a native English speaker?