My Trip Inside the Dada Engine: Where Computers and Art Collide

Back in the 1990s, blogger, photographer, music producer and all round tech wizard Andrew C. Bulhak created a revolutionary computer program known as the Dada Engine. By combining some elementary grammatical rules with randomly generated bundles of text, the Dada Engine can spew out what sound like entirely plausible sentences of prose at will, sentences that sound so plausible in fact that they can easily be confused for those written by the human hand.

The Dada Engine performs this remarkable little trick by using something known as recursive grammar, where linguistic elements are regurgitated several times over to form coherent sequences. Think of a computer’s version of recursive grammar as a nonsense feedback loop, where the language being defined is free to be used in the definition itself to form an ultimately meaningless chain of gobbledygook. These recursive structures are incredibly easy for technology to replicate, requiring very little processing power

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