Vendmaster: A language game between machines and people
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This thesis is about an intelligent machine that is designed to become a social commentary on the use of language in establishing boundaries between machines and people. Modeled like a language game played between a machine and human players, the document discusses the design of Vendmaster, an augmented candy dispenser that intends to problematize the relationship between native and non-native speakers to allow them reverse roles and exchange perspectives to become aware of each other's world. Within the ubiquitous culture of vending, standardized food and language, the project brings into attention the ways the dominant culture suppresses the other (in this case with the use of language) and sets Vendmaster as an intelligent reminder. Here, the focus in both on the design of an intelligent machine (by using machine learning and pattern recognition methods) and also the communication of this intelligence, to render a human-like learner and teacher in the eye of the beholder. The goal is to articulate on the different uses and understandings of intelligence to communicate the underlying concept and hopefully open up new ways to think about critical machines that can contribute to the everyday machine culture with more artistic, social, cultural and political responsibilities.
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