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.
Eliza, Part 1
Eliza, Part 2
Eliza, Part 3
(via O'Reilly Radar)
(Image: NLP Addiction)
The bad news is that, due to the sheer tininess of certain components, iPhones are particularly vulnerable to going haywire in the presence of helium. The good news is that helium just isn’t a problem you run into often. Sure enough, Apple’s user guide for the iPhone and Apple watch admits this is a problem: […]
A single smut-addicted official at the US Geological Survey led to an IT crisis there, according to an official report, with visits to more than 9000 porny URLs resulting in a malware infestation. The recommendations? Filter the web, and plug those damned USB ports. Correction: More than 9000 sites, not 9000 infections.
Social network Gab was the online sanctuary of Robert Bowers, the antisemitic killer of 11 Jewish people in Pittsburgh. Gab lost its payment processors Paypal and Stripe over the weekend. On Tuesday, it loses its webhost, Joyent. Godaddy, its domain name registrar, gave it the boot on Sunday. Gab co-founder Ekrem Büyükkaya, who once wrote […]
A picture can be worth a heck of a lot more than just a thousand words. If you’ve squinted for ages trying to get just the right photo, you might have the right passion for a career behind the camera. You might even have the right equipment, but do you have the know-how? The Beginner-To-Expert […]
In case you hadn’t noticed from the sleigh bell-heavy music and the hues on your Starbucks cup, the holiday season hasn’t shown any more patience this year. But that doesn’t need to be a bad thing, especially if you’re hoping to get a jump on your shopping. Retailers aren’t waiting til Black Friday to dish […]
What do you get for the techie who has everything? How about giving them a Raspberry Pi and letting them make pretty much anything. Or better yet, do it for yourself with the Ultimate Raspberry Pi eBook Bundle. This trove of ideas and education unlocks the unlimited potential of this mini-computer, whose affordability and versatility […]