MIND(?)READER


For two computers, 7.1-channel Audio, ~28 mins.


Marcus Schmickler and Julian Rohrhuber explore the 'Mind (?) Reader', an invention that helped lay the foundation for machine learning in the midst of the Cold War, and that also had a wide reception in psychoanalysis and media theory by way of Jacques Lacan. Invented in the 1950s by Claude Shannon, the 'Mind Reader' was inspired by game theory, American Romantic literature, and Shannon’s belief that people are not a good source of random behaviour. The machine plays an 'odds and evens' game with a human player, refining its guess about the opponent’s next move with each new round. In their project, Rohrhuber and Schmickler sound out the peculiar setup that allows such an extremely simple mechanism to outwit us all. What seemed like a mere zero-sum game might turn out to have been a conversation of a different kind all along.

The Strategy of Operation
Basically, the machine looks for certain types of patterns in the behavior of its human opponent. If it can find these patterns it remembers them and assumes that the player will follow the patterns the next time the same situation arises. The machine also contains a random element. Until patterns have been found, or if an assumed pattern is not repeated at least twice by the player, the machine chooses its move at random. The types of patterns remembered involve the outcome of two successive plays (that is, whether or not the player won on those plays) and whether he changed his choice between them and after them. There are eight possible situations and, for each of these, two things the player can do.


Claude Shannon‘s Mind (?)Reading Machine from 1953


The player wins, plays the same, and wins. He may then play the same or differently.
The player wins, plays the same, and loses. He may then play the same or differently.
The player wins, plays differently, and wins. He may then play the same or differently.
The player wins, plays differently, and loses. He may then play the same or differently.
The player loses, plays the same, and wins. He may then play the same or differently.
The player loses, plays the same, and loses. He may then play the same or differently.
The player loses, plays differently, and wins. He may then play the same or differently.
The player loses, plays differently, and loses. He may then play the same or differently.

All music is based on emulations of this machine/algorithm. In concert two players face each other and transform the signal of the other by means of 'Steno', a little concatenative live coding language written by Julian Rohrhuber embedded in SuperCollider. It makes code for combining synth graphs very short, so that writing endless chains is like writing a single long word. A word is a program. A letter is a synth.


Programs look like this:
--ab[(ab)(ab)(ab)]c

    
REFERENCES:   
    
2018   
05.25 Düsseldorf Opening Concert at Meta Marathon 42 hours of non-stop talks, performances, films, concerts, exhibitions and workshops on the subject of artificial intelligence 
02.01 Berlin Premiere at HAU1 as part of CTM's AI focus a shared concert with George Lewis' 'Voyager'