Today I Will Be a Better Human

Huiyi Chen

A series of wearable installations that transform the artist into a “better” human with algorithmically optimized emotion, empathy, and social interaction. The artist will then create a performance by wearing these on a daily basis. Today I will be a better human is an attempt to understand what it means to be human in the age of automation, with a language of absurdity and vulnerability.


What makes us human? Feelings? Memories? Empathy? Are we still the same human when we outsource our memories, feelings, and empathy to machines?

Today I will be a better human consists of three wearable devices: I Will Never Forget Your Name, a social assistant that optimizes my memory and helps me impress people with perfect social behaviors; Tearing Up, the empathy assistant that optimizes my emotional Intelligence by pumping tears into my eyes when it senses sorrow in other people; Hugger, the sentiment assistance that comforts/validate me and optimizes my negative emotions. Collectively, these projects are personal reaction to the values and expectations the society puts upon me, and critical comments on the culture in which we are optimized and evaluated by algorithms.

In the postindustrial society, our value as a human is defined by our economical value and our labor. We aim to be faster, stronger, smarter, prettier, and the list goes on. To produce more value, we create technical devices to extend our abilities and compensate for our weaknesses. We are all cyborgs in some way, and we will be more and more so.

As the last few decades, authority starts to shift from us human to algorithm and we have been more and more evaluated and optimized by algorithms. For example, what book we read depends on Amazon’s algorithm; how we travel to a place depends on Google’s instruction…I ask myself: what are some aspects of us that hasn’t been optimized by algorithms because technology is not there yet, but is likely to be in the future? In Today I will be a Better Human, I envision a future in which we outsource more of ourselves to machines: feelings, emotions, social interactions.

But can these feelings really be improved with the help of algorithms? Or could it nullify the things that makes humans actually human ? In the end, maybe it is exactly our imperfections, our limitation, our weakness that makes us human.



Thesis Presentation Video