Computer-controlled voices are more and more lifelike: They can call a restaurant to reserve a table, even mimicking the imperfections of speech like “eh” or “hmm.” Synthetic voice software that sounds human is currently one of the biggest development branches for Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft.
The human voice not only produces language, but also the human self. It’s personal, emotional, fragile and thus transmits plenty of subconscious information. The bots the technology companies are working on are, by contrast, voices without a human self. How does it feel to communicate with them; to feed them with your own human voice?
Repeat After Me is installed in one of the telephone booths from the early days of the Congress Hall and invites HKW visitors to talk with a bot: Can you outsmart the algorithm? What is human about a voice? Where are the limitations of personal expression? What power is there in joint speech?
The bot tweets a brief dialog once a week on Twitter: