This hand-cranked, AI-powered projector tells stories by perfectly merging analog with futuristic design

There has been a lot of discussion about how artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT, Midjourney, and other creative platforms will change the way we tell stories. There is still a lot to be learned, debated on, and experimented on, but there are a lot of interesting concepts, instruments, and products that are currently being discovered by those who are very much interested in this next evolution of technology and creativity.

Designers: Aria Xiying Bao and Yubo Zhao at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning

Two students at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning have come up with something that seems to blend AI technology and old-school design to demonstrate how we can use it to craft stories. The Narratron looks like an old-timey camera or projector but is actually AI-powered. By simply doing a bit of shadow puppets, you can get the built-in AI powered by ChatGPT’s language model to crank out a story based on it, by literally cranking out the machine.

ChatGPT has been continually accused of “hallucinating” so why not make it produce actual works of fiction? How it works is pretty simple on the outside. You press a button that will capture a shadow puppet that you create with your hand. The algorithm will then analyze this snapshot and translate it into an animal keyword which becomes the hero or basis of your story. As you turn the crank, you get each piece of the story, including a narration, sound effects, and even music.

The old school look and the simplicity of the design will not scare people who are already wary of AI and technology to try it out. But of course there’s so much work that goes into creating something like this and will bring even more discussion to the table of how AI can affect the way we tell stories, even if we are willing participants into things like these.