The Last Job on Earth
Lending a human face to a machine
2017

Installation mx1,5mx3m Program, computer, costume, table, chair and curtains

At the dawn of a new wave of automation, more and more jobs are replaced by machines. Machines have even begun to make humans work, such as in Amazon’s controversial Mechanical Turk marketplace. The nature of the human mind differs greatly from artificial brains -disembodied, networked systems with perfect memory of data-. Instead of competing, will the two forms rather merge? “The Last Job On Earth” is a speculative example of collaboration between the two entities.

In this speculative universe, intimacy and expressivity become commodities, “some of the last employable human skills” according to the fictional company Human Industries. The audience is the witness of a speculative job: humans being employed by a specialised program as an emotional machine and a visual interface. Curious visitors of the Human Industries Showroom can watch a promotional video (see video) presented by the Showroom bot while they wait for a one on one experience with the hybrid interpreter system.

‘The Last Job On Earth’ experiments with how machines and humans compete and collaborate in terms of labour. The audience is the witness of a speculative job: humans being employed by specialised programs as an emotional machine and visual interface.

In the performative installation of the Human Industries Showroom, visitors can communicate with a conversational program through a keyboard and computer-generated answers are then spoken aloud by the human interpreter adding facial expressions and emotions. The employee of the program, the interpreter, is completely alienated through this process must rely completely on the program as they can’t know what the visitor is asking. The conversational program itself is only logic and cannot truly understand the dynamics of human speech, therefore depending completely on the human employee for emotional interpretation. An odd situation of disbalance is created for the visitor to observe and decrypt.

Lending a human body to an artificial mind to communicate with other humans is a passageway between two forms of intelligence. Mistakes and misinterpretations happen, but at the same time, human and machine come closer and closer together.

Selected exhibitions