The Delphic Room: An Artistically Derived Metaphor

Hedvig Jalhed, Mattias Rylander, Kristoffer Åberg

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In his well-known thought experiment regarding artificial intelligence (AI), John Searle sketched out the philosophic idea of “The Chinese room” – a room in which comprehensible rules (a program) allow a person to perfectly correlate one set of unknown linguistic symbols (a question) with another (an answer) of the same unfamiliar kind. In our creation of an AI-based micro-opera for humans and machines, we have come to reflect upon our concept as an artistic response to Searle’s arguments and a mirroring complement to his debated figure. Our immersive and interactive opera was conceived as a modular series of musically paced meetings between individual visitors and a singing seeress in contact with the digital realm. As an analogy to the Delphic oracle, the seeress delivered AI-prompted answers to the visitors’ questions in real time, framed by poetical, musical, and theatrical structures. In Searle’s Chinese room, goal-oriented computational mechanisms remain detached from understanding during the linguistic operation. In our Delphic room, understanding is key for carrying out the aesthetic operations intended to artistically stimulate a coupling of intellectual and visceral information processing in open-ended and personal ways.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Mar 19
EventAR@K24: The Artist, The Ghost and The Machine - Kristiania University College, Oslo, Norway
Duration: 2024 Mar 182024 Mar 19


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Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Arts
  • Philosophy

Artistic work

  • Text

Free keywords

  • artistic research
  • philosophy
  • experiment
  • opera
  • artificial intelligence
  • interaction
  • information
  • Delphic oracle
  • Searle
  • Chinese room


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