“If/Then” by Ken Feingold 2001 – Existential AI Chatbots

documentation clip of “If/Then” by Ken Feingold 2001 – YouTube.

Art presages popular culture once again.

from Feingold’s website:

Two identical heads, sculpted in the likeness of an imaginary androgynous figure, speak to each other, doubting the reality of their own existence. These two, in ever-changing and outrageous conversations with each other struggle to determine if they really exist or not, if they are the same person or not, and if they will ever know. I wanted them to look like replacement parts being shipped from the factory that had suddenly gotten up and begun a kind of existential dialogue right there on the assembly line. Their conversations are generated in real time, utilizing speech recognition, natural language processing, conversation/personality algorithms, and text-to-speech software. They draw visitors into their endless, twisting debate over whether this self-awareness and the seemingly illusory nature of their own existence can ever be really understood.

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