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A Dialogue & Embodied Container

My question is: What are the possibilities and alternatives for the human-machine conversation during the evolving progress?

produced by: Zhichen Gu

The inspiration of the concept

The original idea is inspired by a famous-computable theory from Alan Turing, an English computer scientist and mathematician, whether or not the computer(machine) is capable of thinking like a human being in a communication? (1950) Exploring the concept of what thing to be computational and humanoid-thinking, the idea also blurs the boundaries between human and machine, logic and computability simultaneously. "Is everything can be seen as the Turing Machine to some extent?" If the answer says Yes, what will happen to the interaction between humans and machines one day? 

The common concern that in recent years, human interactions with machines is evolving like never before. Today's interaction between humans and machines is not limited to typing a keyboard or clicking one button, whereas more conversational way. Communicating with AI is disrupting the stereotypes to substitute traditional channels of interaction. Therefore, I am guessing that in the future, our daily routine is likely to trend into one digital and automatic style beyond just one piece of regular dialogue information. Thus, when asked, "How would the relationship of human and machine be transferred and overlaid one day?" and "What would the form of this relationship looks like?" I am curious about the identities and embodiment of this interactive relationship in years to come.

In Donna Haraway's idea of "cyborg" in A Cyborg Manifesto (1985), exploring the blurred thoughts between human, animals, and machines became an intriguing topic to dive in, which as the renouncement of the strict lines that separate human from animals and machines, and made ambiguous between natural and artificial in physicality. To some extent, this concept matches my doubt of the relationship when we (Human and Machine) are talking together (having a conversation). Although Haraway's intention is to renounce the boundaries categorising human identities by class, race, gender and so on. I realise that I am more interested in the hybrid interpretation. Relying on "the technology of cyborgs", I decided to attempt my own project on researching the form or relationship of the dialogue between human and machine. 


Stimulation, Relation and Between Human and Machine

Stimulation as one-way transfers the bio-signals into an embodied container and shows simultaneously.

Relation not only limited to human and machine, even multi-machine themselves. Anxiety, curiosity, restlessness......what kind of emotion will be expressed under this relation?

Between Human and Machine blurs the traditional boundary, focusing on the change, possibility and challenge under a rapid development time. Rethinking the identity of the machine in the future.

What the embodied dialogue-container is?

This is a conceptual performative-wearable installation that converts one conversation between human beings and the computer machine, Cleverbot, into one bio-container form, switching the dialogue into a visible entity. Meanwhile, foreseeing that machines as an indispensable part participate in people's daily lives and interact with us. And the algorithmic chatbot, Cleverbot, is a chatterbot web application that uses artificial intelligence to communicate with humans and have the ability of self-evolution on automated responses based on previous conversations.

The embodied dialogue-container includes three symbolic components, human being, machines(chatbot) and containers - which I assume it is one cyborg form - is defined as an experimental compound, interweaving humanic, mechanical, and digital forms in the scenario. The embodied dialogue-container is an abstract and cybernetic ideal, exploring and discussing the control and dominant rights of this dialogue, namely the both of the human being and computer is thinking about what the other is thinking about themselves. Breaking down the container, you can observe the embodied box attempt to envisage an opener possibility for a truly in-depth merge or interaction between human, machine, and entity of cyber hybrid.

The content of this conversation

Attempt to have a text-to-text conversation with Cleverbot, an Artificial Intelligence software designed to analyse my sentences and respond accordingly, sometimes feeling just like chatting online with a human.

  • Me: Hello.
  • Cleverbot: Hi.
  • Me: I would like to have a chat with you talking about your family. Would it be OK?
  • Cleverbot: Sorry, I don't want to talk about it.
  • Me: Sorry.
  • Cleverbot: What would you like to chat about? Like, tell me a wise proverb.
  • Me: Life is like a grapefruit- it's orange and squishy, has a few pips in it, and some people have half of one for breakfast.
  • Cleverbot: So you are like a grapefruit.
  • Me: How so? Why do you think that?
  • Cleverbot: Oh dear, we have gotten mixed up, I'm afraid.
  • Me: That's fine. Do you have a gender?
  • Cleverbot: Yes, how about you?
  • Me: Yes. I am a male. 
  • Cleverbot: Cool. That's all that matters. And I think God is a Female.
  • Me: Interesting, so could you tell me why?


Technical and Components
  • Human Beings
  • Machines (Chatbots)
  • Dialogue Container


For the algorithm section, we used Arduino and sound sensor as the input device and connect them to the laptop with the programme written in Openframeworks programme. For the machine part, I used the Cleverbot API to access and encode them, speech recognition addons on P5js is added to work out the disadvantage of the text-to-text part. Thus, people can talk with the chatbot directly on the OF programme within natural speak. The analogue signal from the sensor in Arduino can be transmitted into the Openframeworks, then as a variable value to affect the Embodied Dialogue Container by myoelectric sensor.



So, how to differ from the conventional sense of cyborg that either enhances, extends, or substitutes parts of the human body? In the project, I do not want to let the dialogue as a digital way between the human being and machines. In contrast, I would like to switch dialogue-information into an entity or physicals which could be controlled or dominated, allowing for the study on its own identity. As human beings, we are obsessed with freedom and whatever could challenge it. While, technology is more and more at the centre of those worries. We constantly analyse the possibilities in place around us, motivated by the concern about losing our autonomy. Humans are becoming more and more depending on machines. So the relation between the participants, human, machines and hybrids, all are agents forming a complex compound. They have different purposes, medium, motivations and perceptions of the circumstance but all influences each other.

As the interactive systems are generating a series of stimulus and participants feel influence by each other, reacting the information as a way to the container. Even if most behaviours react in a similar situation, communication, both human and machine have the perception of domination and doubt(guessing others), which affect the embodied dialogue container. Then wonder if the action of the container is only governed by the other participants’ dialogue data or the dialogue itself also has its own significance. And human and machine are acting here as an enabler? 


Reference list:

[1] Hayles, N. Katherine., and American Council of Learned Societies. How We Became Posthuman Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics.

[2] Dixon, Steve, and Barry Smith. Digital Performance a History of New Media in Theater, Dance, Performance Art, and Installation. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2007. Print. Leonardo (Ser.) (Cambridge, Mass.).

[3] Facchini Amondarain, Marco, Universitat Politècnica De Catalunya. Departament De Ciències De La Computació, Gatius Vila, Marta, and Solano Albajés, Lluís. "The CHATBOT." Web.

[4] Three Conversations with Computers:

[5] Cyborgs. (2012). In K. Cregan, SAGE key concepts: Key concepts in body and society.

[6] "Turing Test." (2014): Dictionary of Energy. Web.

[7] Proudfoot, Diane. "RETHINKING TURING'S TEST." Journal of Philosophy 110.7 (2013): 391-411. Web.

[8] Gray, C., 2002. Cyborg Citizen : Politics in the Posthuman Age. New York, N.Y.: Routledge.

[9] Greiner, Stefan. "Cyborg Bodies-Self-Reflections on Sensory Augmentations." Nanoethics 8.3 (2014): 299-302. Web.

[10] AI vs. AI. Two chatbots talking to each other:

[11] Wiener, Norbert. Cybernetics : Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. 2nd ed. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T., 1961. Print.

[12] Haraway, D., 1991. A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late 20th Century. London:Free Association.