‘Desire Line’ was originally an architect’s term for paths made by people when walking across open grassland, what these lines represent are the shortest or most easily navigated routes between an origin and destination. The film uses this idea in the context of how artificial intelligence might work: the bot generates optimal solutions to user problems as a form of desire line calculation. The film aims to interpret the increasingly controversial role of Artificial Intelligence by visualizing a statement from a bot about its experience on Valentine’s Day in the near future.
Shi Ruini is an interaction designer and filmmaker who currently lives in London and Shanghai. She explores virtual intimacy by combining film language and technological aesthetics, creating narratives that interrogate the compatibility between humanity and emerging technologies. She holds a BA (Hons) in Interaction and Moving Images from London College of Communication and graduated with an MA in Animation from the Royal College of Art in 2018.
Desire Line was inspired by my study of Artificial Intelligence. The point I decided to make it is that I believe AI is innocent to some degree. In most sci-fi films featuring AI themes, the AI is presented as a threat and is generally vilified as the cause of a dystopian future. The explanations of the working patterns of AI we have are insufficient. In reality, AI does not have a choice in regard to its inputs, which come from humans. I want the audience to understand that AI is neither good nor evil, it just has completely different systematic values.
During the production of the film, I realized that it was not easy for audiences to relate to the technically abstract story and process the narrative. In approaching the topic from that perspective, I realized that making people confront their lack of understanding is probably the best way to help them understand – this entity (AI) is fundamentally alien to humans, to visualize its logic in a typical murder story makes it easier for audiences to understand how it processes information.