In early 2017, a group of developers connected two voice-activated smart speakers with the artificial intelligence chatbot Cleverbot and set the two machines off to engage in conversation with each other. The resulting live stream, which went on continuously for some three days, became something of an internet sensation at the time, with the somewhat erratic dialogue included such moments as the two bots falling in love or repeated mutual accusations of being an artificial intelligence and not a human, all delivered in the deadpan tone of the smart speakers’ voice emulators.
Artificial artificial intelligence revisits fragments of this conversation and has them voiced, one line at a time, by workers on the platform Microworkers. The project’s title comes from a phrase that Amazon use to describe their Mechanical Turk service, in which humans are employed to carry out tasks that artificial intelligence is not yet able to perform. This mimetic short-circuit, of humans imitating computers imitating humans, is restaged on the intersubjective level of conversation in Artificial artificial intelligence. Reassembled, the delivery of these lines is often strangely reminiscent of the intonation of the original, with the stumbling, halting, flat readings also articulating the affective dispositions operative in online clickwork.
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