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Posted on June 30, 2021 at 3:49 PM

Original art and artist’s blurbs are presented in collaboration with the students of the University of Illinois Chicago program in Biomedical Visualization. 

by Sydney Agger, BA

While Artificial Intelligence (AI) has shown promise as a diagnostic tool for individuals with depression, I wanted to create an illustration that evoked the feeling behind the ethical challenges described by Laacke et al. in his article about AI, social media, and depression. Throughout the process of creating this illustration my main goal was to maintain a sense of uneasiness between the figure being observed and their shadowy observer. Regardless of the AI figure’s good intentions, its presence feels intrusive as it makes observations without the seated individual’s explicit knowledge or permission. The individual may in fact be struggling with depression, however, their autonomy is being compromised.

By using a contrasting palette of blue and yellow, I was able to emulate the feeling of isolation that can accompany depression juxtaposed against the warmth of the light that superficially touches the seated person. Social media is a filter that we see the world through and through which the world sees us. Depression, in its many forms, can lie just under the surface of what people share of themselves. When the light from the phone illuminates the AI-figure in the background, the harsh contrast between the highly saturated yellow and the blue-green figure increases the uneasy feeling.

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