In a three-part history of the Eliza psychotherapeutic chatbot, Jimmy Maher ('the digital antiquarian') covers both the circumstances of Eliza's birth and the way that the people around her thought about her. The third installment, in particular, deals with the reactions of people who watched people reacting to Eliza -- that is, what do we make of the way that Eliza's creator felt about the way that Eliza's users behaved:
Weizenbaum's reaction to all of this has become almost as famous as the Eliza program itself. When he saw people like his secretary engaging in lengthy heart-to-hearts with Eliza, it... well, it freaked him the hell out. The phenomenon Weizenbaum was observing was later dubbed "the Eliza effect" by Shelly Turkle, which she defined as the tendency "to project our feelings onto objects and to treat things as though they were people." In computer science and new media circles, the Eliza effect has become shorthand for a user's tendency to assume based on its surface properties that a program is much more sophisticated, much more intelligent, than it really is. Weizenbaum came to see this as not just personally disturbing but as dangerous to the very social fabric, an influence that threatened the ties that bind us together and, indeed, potentially threatened our very humanity. Weizenbaum's view, in stark contrast to those of people like Marvin Minsky and John McCarthy at MIT's own Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, was that human intelligence, with its affective, intuitive qualities, could never be duplicated by the machinery of computing -- and that we tried to do so at our peril. Ten years on from Eliza, he laid out his ideas in his magnum opus, Computer Power and Human Reason, a strong push-back against the digital utopianism that dominated in many computing circles at the time.
I asked Amy Parness, the co-founder of Sparkle Labs, maker of fantastic educational electronics kits, to write a Medium post about gender and the business of being a maker business person. Her terrific essay calls out the problems with “pink girly engineering kits.” From Medium:
Zero UI is the new term for “invisible interfaces”—what happens in the future when all the clicking and tapping and typing is history: “If you look at the history of computing, starting with the jacquard loom in 1801, humans have always had to interact with machines in a really abstract, complex way.” [Fast Company]
This Smartphone Photo Lens Kit arms you with six unique smartphone photography accessories, so you can take high-quality and well-composed photos of any subject from small insects to expansive landscapes.6 unique lensesRolls up neatly for transportTripod for stabilitySmall lenses attach seamlessly with magnetMicroscope and 8x telephoto lenses attach with a case (case attaches to phone)Lens wallet […]
Inspired by the universality of symbols, the founders of Noun Project began to collect thousands of hand-drawn icons. The concept has since transformed into a massive digital collection of 150,000+ unique icons that fuel the work of designers every day. Spend less time crafting icons and more time putting amazing designs out into the world with […]
You won’t need to think twice about going hands-free on the road with Exomount’s easy-to-use car mount. It mounts your smartphone so easily, you literally only need one hand to quickly secure your phone in the perfect position and get driving. Don’t risk a ticket, use the world’s best suction technology to effortlessly mount and […]