Wunderman Thompson used AI to write a dystopian book about Iran, aiming to catalyze change
The interactive book, written entirely by GPT-4, gives readers the opportunity to transform an Orwellian nightmare into something a little less bleak.
A.Iran was developed in partnership with the Iran Democracy Council. / Wunderman Thompson
Wunderman Thompson is leveraging generative AI in an effort to envision - and possibly even create - a brighter future for women in Iran.
On Tuesday, the global marketing agency unveiled a new book, titled A.Iran, which envisions the not-so-distant future of Iran if current political conditions within that country are allowed to continue. The book was generated entirely by GPT-4, the large language model (LLM) underlying ChatGPT.
In a video teaser, we briefly see a section of a page taken from the new book; it reads like a piece of immersive journalism written from Berlin during the early days of the Third Reich:
In September, Mahsa Amini – a 22-year-old Iranian woman – died in a hospital in the Iranian capital of Tehran after being held in the custody of the Guidance Patrol, a branch of the Iranian government responsible for the enforcement of Sharia law. Iranian officials claimed that Amini – who was arrested for allegedly not wearing a hijab – died from a heart attack, but witnesses later claimed that she was beaten by Guidance Patrol officers and died from her wounds. Those claims have been denied by Iranian government officials.
Shortly after her death, protests began to erupt across Iran. Many female protestors have publicly removed their hijabs in a show of support for Amini and in demand of an end to the strict dress code for women that the Iranian regime has mandated since around the time that it seized power following the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
Reprisals from the Iranian government have been severe. According to a report from the Human Rights Activists News Agency, 522 protestors had been killed and more than 19,000 were arrested as of January 14.
A.Iran – which the teaser video refers to as “a history book from the future” (it’s set in 2026) was created in part by feeding the LLM text from news clippings and social media posts that have emerged from the ongoing conflict in Iran. All LLMs are trained using immense quantities of data.
The book includes a “choose your own adventure” component: By clicking a “Take action” icon, readers are presented with a litany of options – such as sharing the book, making a donation, and protesting in the streets – each one of which, upon being selected, will literally rewrite the book into a more optimistic narrative, leaving the reader (at least in theory) with the conviction that their actions can contribute to a brighter future for women in Iran.
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The teaser video, for example, shows the aforementioned Berlin 1939-esque passage being revised to tell a story of resistance and courage in the face of tyranny:
“The point – we don’t have to stay silent,” Wunderman Thompson wrote in a press release. “A.Iran gives readers the ability to take action and demonstrates how such actions can make a difference by updating the book’s content right in front of [their] eyes. From donating to human rights organizations to contacting representatives for global political action, A.Iran shows how every step in the right direction can literally rewrite a country’s future.”
A.Iran was created in partnership with the Iran Democracy Council (IranDC), an organization which according to its website “was born out of the grassroots Iranian Revolution” and “is centered on the core conviction that equity for women, the prosperity of life and fundamental freedoms in Iran will only flourish with a secular, democratic and representative government that is accountable to its people.”
The video teaser and the images that are included in the book were also created by generative AI, according to the press release, though no AI models (other than GPT-4) were specified.
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