Posted on 09/09/2021
Chicago’s ‘The Bean’ sculpture is already one of the most popular attractions in the city.
Officially titled ‘Cloud Gate’, the massive, stainless steel sculpture anchors Chicago’s lakefront Millennium Park. At 33 feet high, 42 feet wide, 66 feet long… and about the weight of 15 elephants! the abstract work of public art dominates the cityscape and is one of the largest outdoor art installations in the world.
Almost every visitor to Chicago finds themselves taking in the awe-inspiring reflective surface of The Bean at least once. It mirrors the park and park visitors, the lights along Michigan Avenue, the Chicago skyline - and visitors themselves – in its shiny surface.
Many don’t just look at themselves in The Bean. The perfect, smooth finish invites park visitors to touch the surface, and its curved underside serves as an entrance to the park (hence its formal name Cloud Park.)
Now, The Bean isn’t just the iconic symbol of Chicago and a mirror onto life in the park.
(CH/ Choose Chicago)
Thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI), The Bean is now part of the visitor action. And travelers to Chicago can interact with The Bean on a whole new level.
Choose Chicago describes it from the perspective of The Bean:
“Day in and day out for years, humans have come to stare at The Bean. And The Bean has been staring back. And been in more selfies than even The Bean can count. The Bean has loved all of it.
Then, in 2020, the visitors paused.
And that’s when something wonderful happened to The Bean. The Bean’s friends at Choose Chicago knew the world deserved more Bean. A Bean whose visitors could interact with digitally. A Bean that could truly reflect all that the beautiful city of Chicago has to offer.”
Choose Chicago partnered with a Northwestern University student lab to power The Bean by AI, enabling it to have digital conversations and answer questions from visitors, suggesting places and events for them to experience the city, from neighbourhood restaurants to events next weekend to child-friendly activities, things to do and more.
You don’t have to travel to Chicago to meet its new digital ambassador. The Bean's AI entity lives on the Choose Chicago website, and is available 24-7 to help people from near and far to discover the best of Chicago and plan a future trip.
As The Bean ‘says’:
“The sentient Bean is now ready to tell you all about stunning Chicago. The Bean spent years analyzing the idle chitchat of nearby visitors. The Bean learned the importance of helping people locate pizza of all depths. The Bean learned there is other non-Bean art and culture to help humans to enjoy. And The Bean learned more than The Bean wanted about the baseball rivalry that splits the city into two areas: North of The Bean and South of The Bean.
“Ask The Bean anything—and The Bean will share everything it knows.”
We took The Bean up on its challenge and went online to explorewiththebean.com to have a chat with The now-sentient Bean ourselves. It went like this:
According to Choose Chicago, “The Bean is improving its conversation skills every day and cannot wait to speak with every human who wants to explore the city.
“The Bean wants to relay that this is just a wonderful start to its mission.”
Top Image: A.Alexander courtesy of Choose Chicago
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