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How National Liberty Museum used generative AI to create pieces for this ‘Data Nation’ exhibit

The Old City org's Dr. Elizabeth Grant said the goal of the exhibit is to make artificial intelligence more accessible.

Dr. Elizabeth Grant at the National Liberty Museum's Data Nation exhibit. (Photo by Sarah Huffman)

This editorial article is a part of Entertainment Tech Month of Technical.ly’s editorial calendar.

How do communication technologies impact democratic norms?

This was the question Dr. Elizabeth Grant, chief program officer of the National Liberty Museum, and her team contemplated when creating the museum’s exhibit “Data Nation.” As they explored this idea, she said they started talking about generative art, which led to a larger conversation about accessibility to artificial intelligence.

Grant’s team used AI to create multiple parts of the June-launched exhibit — starting with the font used to write its title at the entrance.

The first part of the exhibit is a wall outlining communication technologies throughout the years including newspapers, phones and social media.

Technologies timeline. (Photo by Sarah Huffman)

“We created this dynamic timeline that shows these moments of technological innovation within this sphere of communication,” Grant told Technical.ly. “This is to help visitors orient themselves to know that we’ve been in these moments of transition and flux before. They’re bumpy and we get through them and there’s great leaps forward, there’s some steps backwards.”

Across from this wall of progress are pieces of AI-generated art that Grant’s team created on the platform Midjourney. These art pieces are intended to represent a few themes: future of work, the nature of creativity, voting, representation and bias, and the historic significance of AI.

Creating these pieces pointed out the flaws in generative AI, she said, such as a lack of racial diversity in the representation and bias piece. The placard of each piece also lists the prompts used to create that image.

AI-generated art about generational representation. (Photo by Sarah Huffman)

The exhibit also features an “echo chamber” where visitors are invited to type in a statement of something they believe, then the chamber uses a ChatGPT algorithm to rephrase and repeat back the statement in different voices.

“Once we sort of go on this journey about data and think about how it sort of categorizes us, aggregates us, we then think about that feedback loop, the echo chamber that we all find ourselves stumbling into every now and again, due to our internet usage,” Grant said.

The echo chamber. (Photo by Sarah Huffman)

The exhibit team wanted to leave visitors with actionable ideas of what they can do to navigate AI, so they used ChatGPT to generate a toolkit for digital citizenship — and Grant said the team didn’t need to change much of what the AI chat tool suggested.

The final section of the exhibit displays key democratic values on a wall and invites visitors to add different-colored dots to indicate which values are most important to them.

Wall of democratic values. (Photo by Sarah Huffman)

Overall, the goal of the exhibit is to make AI and related technologies feel accessible and digestible to the general public.

“This is an accessible way of introducing this moment to people and that was really important,” Grant said. “We didn’t want to stake a claim on whether AI is a good thing or a bad thing. We really want people to experience the exhibition and think about that for themselves.”

“Data Nation” is open until Oct. 30.

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Series: Entertainment Tech Month 2023

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