Ever seen a typewriter type back? This AI-powered Ghostwriter does just that

Artist and interaction designer Arvind Sanjeev is trying to make the AI co-writing experience more tactile with a repurposed worn-out Brother typewriter.

11 January 2023


As the increasingly conversational capability of AI continues to dominate headlines, Arvind Sanjeev has been looking at the process of co-writing using artificial intelligence. In particular, how we might use product design to welcome people put off by the tech, as well as encouraging more “mindful” prompts. For Arvind, one answer is using the interface of a traditional typewriter.

The typewriter, or Ghostwriter, is powered by the GPT-3 language model from OpenAI. It allows users to enter any prompt through the keys, hit return and receive a response from the AI. (Behind the keys an Arduino processes prompts and shares it with a raspberry pi which queries the GPT-3 API.)

The design of the Ghostwriter is purposefully warm and inviting, owing to the vintage brother model Arvind tracked down online and broke apart to create the product. “The calm meditative interface removes all the digital distractions and takes us on an emotional journey through paper and ink. This lets us become more deliberate with our prompts and pulls us to read each word one after the other, helping us understand the nuances profoundly,” says Arvind. There are other playful details that help make the concept of a Ghostwriter seem less intimidating, like the introduction of “tiny curious ghost sprites” displayed on a tiny OLED, “that roamed around while you were playing with the machine,” says Arvind.

The first creative project the Ghostwriter was used for was a poetry zine, made with prompts prepared by Arvind and crowdsourced from people on the internet. Arvind outlines the process of creating the typewriter in more detail on Twitter.

GalleryArvind Sanjeev: Ghostwriter (Copyright © Arvind Sanjeev, 2022)

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Arvind Sanjeev: Ghostwriter (Copyright © Arvind Sanjeev, 2022)

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Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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