The program below is an excerpt from an interview conducted with Amazon.Com’s semi-artificial intelligence system for product recommendation based on the image that it receives. The system is powered by algorithms and helped by humans when the algorithms fail. On the left are the pictures we sent to it, on the right are the products that we received. It is also available as a book.



Recommender systems, the basic building block of any website today, determine the news we see, the posts we read, the products we buy, the music we listen to. Most of the time the algorithm behind those systems evaluates what it already knows about us in order to recommend something we might be interested in.

In order to study this new emerging form of consciousness we decided to have an interaction with it in the form of an interview. The striking result is that there is a certain very specific narrative and even an ideological stance that this artificial intelligence takes: a person wearing a dirty shoe needs a new clean cheap shoe; somebody smoking rolling tobacco needs rolling papers; a picture of a body part calls for a set of barbells to make it look better and stronger…

After this initial encounter with the newly emerging machine logic of constant self-improvement, we started experimenting with strategies that could circumvent it and, ironically, CAPTCHA-like obfuscated messages and art are the only domains where it (still) fails…


This interview has been first presented as a video projection at Beursschouwburg art center in Brussels in October-November 2013. It is also available as a limited edition book (hard-copy or e-book).