Brooklyn-based technologist and multimedia artist Michelle Huang is successfully able to connect and talk with her inner child through an interesting approach: artificial intelligence or AI.
She has been talking with her younger self a lot lately, thanks to real-time written conversations with an AI chatbot which she trained on entries from her journals back from her childhood days. She created the chatbot so she can connect with her “inner child” in a real-time inner dialog.
Huang said, “It felt like I was reaching into the past and giving her a giant hug, and I felt it ripple back into the present.”
AI simulates human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems.
For her AI chatbot, this multimedia artist took sample texts from diary entries she felt best represented the personality and beliefs of her younger self. She then fed the texts into GPT-3, a computer program from OpenAI that could be trained to create realistic-sounding text.
Meanwhile, inner-child work pertains to a therapeutic approach to understanding and healing past trauma. It involves reaching back to a time when the person was younger and more vulnerable, and, in essence, “reparenting” themselves emotionally and mentally from the perspective of their older, wiser selves.
Huang’s creation has proven to be illuminating and healing. She calls the chatbot “Young Michelle,” and through it, this 26-year-old technologist has been able to offer Young Michelle self-loving and comforting words which her past always wanted and needed to hear. They include reassurances that her childhood hardships were formative to what she is today and that she would not rewrite the past even if she could.
As a child, Huang was an ambitious and driven people-pleaser, and in her exchanges with the chatbot, Present Michelle shares with her younger self that fear of failure is leaving her feeling stuck for years.
The chatbot tells her, “I’m honestly proud of you for everything you’ve accomplished. It hasn’t been easy, and I know you’ve made a lot of sacrifices to get where you are. I think you’re doing an amazing job, and I hope you continue to pursue your dreams and make a difference in the world.”
This experiment of hers has also resonated with others. Huang tweets about her chatbot, and people are asking her how they could replicate the experience.