Issue #13 of Immerse—the monthly digital publication focused on emerging nonfiction storytelling that’s edited by our director, Jessica Clark—considers the role of artificial intelligence and machine learning in emerging documentary.

Artist Lauren McCarthy discusses  the rise of  AI personal assistants and their invasion into the most intimate spaces of our homes. She shares observations from her project wherein she acts as a human AI personal assistant, dubbed LAUREN, much like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. McCarthy writes “I attempt to be better than an AI, because I can understand them as a person and anticipate their needs.”

Shirin Anlen, interactive creator and a fellow at MIT OpenDocLab, makes the claim that since much of AI and machine learning is based on interpretation and forecasting of human data,  it is inevitable for AI to experience mental illness. She hopes to explore this theory further and welcomes people to join her working group on the subject by sending an email to

Anlen also provides a toolkit for interactive storytellers in this issue—all you need to  know is a basic understanding of Python.

As part of the Making a New Reality series, in this issue Kamal Sinclair provides an industry analysis of AI and machine learning, noting that the industry is rapidly growing to upwards of $13.4 billion with trends focusing on language translation, healthcare and urban planning.

The Deep Reads section provides a list of books and articles that traces the rise of AI as far back as 1959 and addresses questions like: Will AI ever surpass human intelligence? Are intelligent systems reductive and therefore dangerous? and How will algorithmic changes affect human understanding of arts and culture?

Frightened yet? Check out the full issue here for maximum chills.