Chatting to a bot is a fairly amusing game: see how it reacts to different keywords; discern if it can recognize the subjunctive. Watching two chatbots have a conversation can also be pretty funny, and some human constraints on topics can turn a mechanical conversation into a topical, algorithmic play. New York-based artist Annie Dorsen’s production Hello Hi There features two 90s chatbots conversing, with some YouTube comments on a philosophical debate thrown in for good measure.
The result is a kind of uncanny conversation where it feels like the participants aren’t quite listening to each other.
Some audiences find it funny, others find it bleak and nihilistic; in some cases they find it poignant (at least one viewer told Dorsen they were reminded of what it’s like to talk to a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease).