Lost in Computation

Jonas Eltes / Fabrica
*1993 in Kungsbacka (SE), lives and works in Treviso (IT)

»Lost in Computation«
2017, mixed-media installation, 2 screens, 2 Raspberry Pis

»Lost in Computation« is a multilingual conversation between two autonomous chatbots. Chatbots are computer programs, which can conduct humanlike dialogs via written text or audio processing. Their aim is to simulate humanlike conversations, and they are typically implemented in information exchange services, e-commerce platforms, and call centers. Chatbots used for these purposes are limited to conversations regarding a specialized purpose and not for the entire range of human communication.

In this work, two chatbots face each other. Trained in different languages, Swedish and German amongst them, the conversation simultaneously runs through »Google Translate«. The conversation runs on two small computers communicating with each other through a »Node.js« web server, using sockets for real-time communication between the two clients. The machine-learning algorithm of the chatbot highlights the level of sophistication bots have achieved, but also the absurdity of machine cognition, as the program is not able to appreciate the meaning of what is being talked about. 

Lost in Computation is one of the artworks realized by Fabrica residents to celebrate UN International Mother Language Day, inspired by the nature of Jonas Eltes’ own conversations with Italians during his residency at Fabrica.

Courtesy of Fabrica, Catena di Villorba