Month: September 2013

Nybble

Nybble by Ollie Palmer

Nybble

About

In 1984, philosopher John Searle asserted that there can be no such thing as “hard” artificial intelligence through the now-famous Chinese Room argument. Searle asked whether a non-Chinese speaker, locked in a room with nothing but a book with instructions for translating one Chinese symbol into another – and given the task of translating Chinese symbols passed to him on slips of paper – could ever truly learn Chinese.

The answer, according to Searle, is “no”. There is no difference between the process that the person in the Chinese room is following (i.e. manipulating symbols according to a pre-fixed routine) and the information transfer in computer systems. Thus, Searle argues, if the man in the Chinese room could never learn the meaning of the symbols he is changing, no computer could truly learn the meaning of the symbols it is manipulating, and thus, there can be no “hard” artificial intelligence.
More about the Chinese Room

This installation is a diagram of Searle’s argument; a human-computer, comprised of four dancers and an unseen controller, parse a coded message. Only the public, who are given code-sheets, can read the message over the course of a 45-minute dance. In computing terms a “Nybble” is half a byte of information – that is, four bits (or dancers).

The Nybble codebase

Public performance

Nybble was commissioned for the V&A Museum’s Digital Design Weekend 2013, part of London Design Festival. It was funded by Design With Heritage, an AHRC Creative Economies Project between the V&A Museum and University College London.

Credits

Project

Production

Costume Design

  • Magdalena Gustafsson

Dancers

  • Anastassia Bezerko
  • Maria Fonseca
  • Raimu Itfum
  • Olamide James
  • Alexandra Katana
  • Roberto Leo
  • Monica Nicolaides
  • Ughetta Pratesi
  • Prisca Pugnetti
  • Rudi Salpietra
  • Kathryn Spence

Casting

  • Andrea Mongenie

Photography

Thanks

  • Amy Thomas
  • The staff at the V&A Museum

More

Nybble at the V&A Museum

This weekend (20-21 September 2013) the garden of V&A Museum will be transformed into a large computing device by Ollie Palmer – and a troupe of “human-computers”.

In 1948 Alan Turing designed the first chess computer programme.

The only problem was that he didn’t have a computer to play it on.

He wrote all of the instructions onto pieces of paper, and played a game of chess as if he were the computer himself. Each move took over half an hour. What’s more, his human-powered computer programme didn’t win the game.

Nybble takes Turing’s human computer and combines it with a sense of theatricality in an immersive architectural-scale installation. Four performers, each representing a different part of a computing CPU, will be parsing a message into the V&A’s John Madjeski Garden. The display is playful, silly and fun – and possibly the most analogue computer to have graced the V&A’s Digital Design Weekend.

Nybble_tests

Where

John Madjeski Garden, V&A Museum
21-22 September 2013
12.00, 14.00 and 16.00 daily (performances last 45 minutes)
Admission free

Part of the V&A Digital Design Weekend.

Funded by Design with Heritage, an AHRC Creative Economy Knowledge Exchange between V&A and UCL. www.designwithheritage.org