Pro-Folio is a speculative academic project aimed at intellectual stimulation and debate regarding the fragility of online identities.
As part of the academic demonstration, the algorithm powering Pro-Folio was initiated online on 1st Jan 2014. The speculative nature of the project provoked many artist, designers and corporations involved in creative industry. Currently the issue of authenticity of machine generated identities is being discussed in many online forums. Thus Pro-Folio, a ‘design for debate’ project accomplished what it was built for.
Since Pro-Folio was intended to be an ephemeral speculative project, on the 7th of January 2014, the algorithm was turned off and all identities generated earlier were removed permanently from the website.
Note: Pro-Folio does not generate, store or replicate identities now. The domain (pro-folio.org) will be used for documentation purpose only.
Pro-Folio.org is a HOAX project created by Sures Kumar as a part of a Scientific Hoax project at the Royal College of Art, London. More background information, context, briefing can be found in the Science Hoax project blog.
The creation of falsified information within scientific research has a long and colourful history. The consequences of previous scientific hoaxes have been both critically beneficial and devastatingly destructive to the creators and recipients of these fictions. Some are designed and deliberately revealed in order to complete their agendas, whereas others continue to charade as the truth.
Given the availability of information online ranging from open source names to college databases, computers can construct a believable identity in no time. All it takes is to carefully lay the facts in a logical sequence, which can be coded as an algorithm. If this is possible, can computer programs create all sorts of human identities in future? And what will be the motivation to do so? Will it be just populating identities and adding noise to our already overloaded Internet or will it give birth to interesting, engaging, avant-garde, mysterious identities and art works?
Pro-Folio questions the nominal authenticity of works, which constructs artist’s and designers online identity (i.e. Name, Education, Work, etc). As an outcome, a website www.pro-folio.org was built which creates fictional identities of artists and designers. The algorithm also adds random work as their bona-fide portfolio. This happens dynamically (in real-time) when the user is browsing the portfolio.
Making of Pro-Folio.org:
Various open source names, colleges, places and galleries databases were used to generate the fictional identities. Theoretically, the algorithm can generate upto 690,903,803 trillion fictional identities with unique name and work combinations. Data from various online sources are used to generate these portfolios. Interestingly, it has been observed so far that the average user takes ~4 minutes before (s)he starts questioning the authenticity of the work or the machine generated identity.
The system constantly learns from the users behavior and ranks identities and projects. Thus a score value is assigned for each successful combination eg. (First Name – Last Name), (Full Name – Location), (Name, Place – College), etc. Based on these scores the algorithm generates identifies which are more believable and engaging.
Disclaimer:All contents displayed in the website (http://www.pro-folio.org) are dynamically generated using server side scripts. The art and design works are fetched from various online sources and the designer’s name and details are generated from a wide variety of online databases. This is a speculative academic project aimed at intellectual stimulation and debate regarding the identities generated online and is not intended to hurt any individual or corporation.
Credits / Courtesy:
Zoe Hough, Ritika Karnani, Nitasha Jhala, Tim Pulver