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Crowdsourcing Mornings: Hear, Falcon – A Documentary About Falconry And Robots

This is Crowdsourcing Mornings! This post takes place every weekday morning and highlights one crowdsourcing project I liked from Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or other crowdsourcing websites.

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Naum Milyavskiy and Summer Young are a director-writer and cinematographer duo who are interested in the relationships human beings create with radically different minds.

To explore the potential for human-robot relationships, they turn to the sport of falconry, where hunters form unlikely partnerships with fierce birds of prey. The project was inspired by films such as Arrival, My Octopus Teacher, and Her.

The filmmakers speak with veteran falconers, communication theorists, interaction designers, and innovators of commercial digital companions to answer a pressing question in the 21st century: how might our lives change when our technologies cross the threshold from tools to companions?

Robots have become commonplace in 2021. Self-driving cars are being tested on roads and conversational agents are going head-to-head against humans on debate stages.  At home, AI virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa read us the news, and Roombas vacuum our floors. But smart robots are more than household servants. They’re also becoming therapists, mentors, and even romantic partners.

We’ve clearly crossed a threshold.

During the pandemic, robots became even more embedded in households as companies deployed animatronic pets and digital companions to assist the elderly and cognitively impaired.

Early users cherished the new company, confiding in their digital friends and even celebrating holidays with them. Some preferred their digital companions to humans and animals.

Hear, Falcon is a film that explores this new social frontier. The documentary examines human-animal relationships in the ancient sport of falconry to better understand our evolving relationship with robots.

Falconers, many of whom have spent years forming bonds with difficult birds, have a unique perspective on communicating and bonding with minds unlike our own.  We mine their world for insights that can be applied to the growing field of human-computer interaction.

The robots aren’t coming. They’re already here.

New technologies are reshaping our cities and institutions, from autonomous cars to social media platforms and predictive policing algorithms. At the same time, the general public is often kept in the dark about these developments. We deal with the complicated social effects only after the technology has been rolled out.

Hear, Falcon calls for a different approach. The film explores the larger implications of socially designed products being integrated into our daily lives.  As we start to use robot companions and AI-driven conversational agents at home, we should consider the unintended consequences of these technologies.  They are being built to leverage our social instincts, at times feigning emotion and psychological depth. If they are to be used as a salve for the nationwide epidemic of loneliness, or even merely as helpful assistants, we will want a better idea of what exactly they can offer and how they might shape our psychology and social norms.

This documentary aims to bring more audiences into this live discussion. Ultimately, the film takes an optimistic stance on technology with two major goals:

  1. to spark a conversation that preempts the mass adoption of socially designed products
  2. to help form an ethical vision for how we might live with these products

As of September 22nd, this project has raised $15,000 of their $18,670 goal. This project has 3 days left to raise the $18,670 or it will not be funded. For a pledge of $25, you will get a social media shoutout and soundtrack.  For a pledge of $50, you will get a special thanks credit and digital poster.  To learn more and to pledge money, go to: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1313975525/hear-falcon-a-documentary-about-falconry-and-robots?

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