What does the bot say to the human?


Concept and Art Direction: Jiayi Young

Concept and Data Archive: Weidong Yang

Technology Direction: Shih-Wen Young

Data Analytics: Qilian Yu

Electronic Design: Bartek KÅ‚usek

Data Mapping of 2016 U.S. Presidential Election Twitter Activity

This project, with its multiple phases, transforms the 2016 United States Presidential Election Twitter data into a large-scale installation to probe the question of how artificial intelligence via the ways of social media assumes form and transforms the shaping of the future of a nation.

The installation sequence begins in silence with a field of lights on the floor slowly fading in and out like a calm human breath sound asleep. As robotic Tweets slowly infiltrate into the system, valves suspended under the IV bags are triggered to drip neon green fluid, micro speakers began to sound, and lights turn to flickering and twitching actions. The more times a human Twitter account is “infected" by the robotic Tweets, the more aggressively the lights would twitch and more speakers would sound. As the timeline progresses, the visual and sonic effect intensify to a point where the installation space embodies an experience of a systematic seizure and an echo chamber. When the timeline reaches the date of November 8, 2016, a bright burst of lights floods the installation space and the system shuts down abruptly. In the 30 second that follows, the installation is void of light and sound. After that, the installation starts from the beginning.

By mapping election data into flickering lights, clicking sounds, and the exchange of fluid between IV bags, the installation recounts Twitter election-related activities from February 2016 through the election date of November 8, 2016. By identifying major Twitter influencers in this period, uncovering propagation patterns in the AI-enabled Twitter landscape, and differentiating human tweets from robotic (Twitter bot) tweets, the installation exposes the inner mechanisms of a world where true human activity and artificially intelligent automation mutually influence each other and propagate inseparably as a combined force. The installation allows the examination of machine world infiltration that shifted the generative entropic propagation of campaign messaging on social media and provides a physical space for contemplating the significant challenges social media pose in our understanding of the social fabric and the radical transformation of the ways in which we now relate to each other.

Portrayed per data specified above, the goal of the installation is to accurately communicate the story of pro-Trump sentiment propagated on Twitter during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. The artwork aims to engage the public in critical social dialogue which exams the significance of artificial intelligence now plays in the relationship between contemporary American life, democracy, politics, and social interactions.


List of propagating hashtags:







Recounts twitter election activity: Feb 8 - Nov 8, 2016

6.5 million users initial data pool

620,000 tweets final analyzed dataset



This project is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and research grants from the University of California, Davis. We are grateful for the data analytics support from Professor Shuguang Cui, Ph.D., IEEE Fellow, Child Family Endowed Chair Professor, Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California Davis.



Copyright © 2016. Jiayi Young Studio. All rights reserved.