Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Annie Dorsen, Hello, Hi there

Hello Hi There uses the famous television debate between the philosopher Michel Foucault and linguist/activist Noam Chomsky from the Seventies as inspiration and material for a dialogue between two custom-designed chatbots: every evening, these computer programs, designed to mimic human conversations, perform a new – as it were, improvised – live text.

As Chomsky and Foucault debate language, creativity, the roots of scientific discovery and the nature of political power, the chatbots talk on and on, endlessly circling the questions of the debate, and frequently veering off into unexpected, at times nonsensical, digressions. Purposely low-tech, the chatbots remind us of the optimism of the late 60s/early 70s, when natural language programming was thought to soon crack the code of human language production. This optimism in the face of repeated failure echoes the dynamic in the politics of Chomsky and Foucault — reflecting a similarly fading optimism in the possibility of people to remake our world.

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