Categories: Internet Health

New Film, Magazine: The Uncertain Future of Artificial Intelligence and IoT

Mozilla is releasing a short film and launching a new magazine. They explore the impact of a pervasive internet on our lives and our future


What happens when AI virtual assistants can mimic our voices, learn our habits, and double as our drinking buddies?

It’s a future that doesn’t seem far off. It’s also a future Mozilla is exploring in a new short film and with a new bi-annual magazine.

Today, Mozilla is releasing a short film commissioned from Superflux titled “Our Friends Electric,” and launching a new magazine titled DING, to explore the impact of connected devices on our lives, our society, and our future.

The movie and magazine cover a wide range: You’ll see a stubborn AI bickering with its owner. You’ll read about anti-corruption bots in Brazil, and the harmful impact of connected devices on the environment. And you’ll hear from one of the founders of interaction design, Gillian Crampton Smith.

The work is led by Mozilla’s Open IoT Studio, a research studio seeking to advance internet health in emerging technologies.

“It’s imperative that we go beyond what’s possible with technology, and instead consider what’s responsible,” says Michelle Thorne, who leads Mozilla’s Open IoT Studio. “We wanted to critically engage in debates about the Internet of Things while offering something constructive in return. For example, we researched the current landscape of voice assistants and found that most devices today only encourage you to consume. We asked: what if they could also help you create?”

The Film

Mozilla collaborated with London-based design agency Superflux to create “Our Friends Electric,” a six-minute film about the future of voice-enabled AI. The film features virtual assistants that grow with you, AI that speaks on your behalf, and a philosophically-minded companion that accidently orders 2,000 pounds of organic horse manure.

The film officially premiered at the London Digital Design Weekend at the V&A museum on Saturday, September 23. The prototypes in the film are done by Martin Skelly and Loraine Clarke.

The Magazine

We founded DING magazine because we saw a gap in the practice of slow, considered making and the breakneck speed of technology. We wanted to anthologize the sprawling online conversations and provide a place of reflection for people interested in crafting technology in more responsible ways. It is a place of refuge to discuss internet health and emerging technologies — slowly, sustainably, and in print. Our inaugural issue is dedicated to the topic of craft and features a range of stories, including:

  • An interview with Gillian Crampton Smith, one of the founders of interaction design. She describes the practice of designing the right thing — and designing the thing right. As virtual and physical worlds converge, Gillian argues that we need craft to inform how we interact with connected objects


  • An overview of recent ethical technology projects, like Operação Serenata de Amor, an anti-corruption bot in Brazil


  • An essay on the invisible costs of connected devices, from the graveyards of the cargo ships that carry our electronics to the cartels that shorten the lifespan of everyday objects. The essay is authored by Vladan Joler of the University of Novi Sad

DING will publish twice yearly. The magazine was designed by Pete Thomas. Read the first-ever edition »

About Mozilla’s Open IoT Studio

Mozilla’s Open IoT Studio, a partnership with the University of Dundee, is part think tank, part open-source laboratory exploring and advocating for ethical IoT. It seeks a holistic viewpoint on how and why internet technologies are developed, and how they could be healthier.

The studio is a distributed community made up of dozens of technologists, activists, academics, and researchers around the globe.

The Open IoT Studio is part of the larger Mozilla Network — a global cohort fighting for a healthy internet. We’re working toward a web that’s open, decentralized, safe, and secure for all, with projects like this and like CommonVoice.

The device prototypes from “Our Friends Electric,” a short film about IoT and AI