TRICK OR TREAT? MIT MEDIA LAB ARE GOING TO HAND AN INDIVIDUAL’S FREE WILL OVER TO THE INTERNET.
For everyone waking up every day in October 2018 wondering just how much more Orwellian can it get, well, don’t miss your chance to control the free will of another human being!
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab are planning to carry out a social experiment meets “first reality augmented game” (entitled ‘BeeMe’) on Halloween that invites online participants to give commands to help an individual (played by an actor) to defeat an evil artificial intelligence programme:
“(the experiment) will follow the story of an evil AI by the name of Zookd, who has accidentally been released online”.
(Niccolo Pescetelli, MIT Media Lab)
The participatory element is believed to fall into two distinctly creepy camps. The first involves writing in to submit custom commands (and also somehow manages to reflect the internal monologue of many people waking up in Brazil this morning post-elections) e.g. “make coffee”, “open the door”, “runaway”. The second method of participation involves internet users voting up or down on commands en masse, so once a command is voted to the top the actor will (we assume) do that very thing.
Although decidedly dystopian at first glance, the BeeMe experiment is grounded in the aim of amassing a qualitative spectrum of insights in relation to “privacy, ethics, entertainment and social interactions”, as clarified in MIT’s press release; insights which are undeniably valuable in the year that gave us the Cambridge Analytica scandal and coincides well with the evolving debate surrounding the future of artificial intelligence. Perhaps it’s not helpful that the ‘evil’ in this narrative is the AI (unfortunately feeding another, perhaps more tabloid “robots will take over society!” narrative), that being said, it could raise some interesting ethical dilemmas i.e. how far would you go to defeat an evil AI and would that be as far as you would be willing to go to defeat a human?
The experiment is scheduled to take place at 11:00pm ET on Wednesday 31 October and is anticipated to last a couple of hours. If day-to-day life isn’t ‘1984’ enough for you just yet, you can impose on the identity and choices of another with all the gusto you would normally reserve for door-stepping strangers for candy. Although totalitarian trolls beware: this is a controlled environment and anything illegal or that violates the safety or identity of the actor will be prohibited.
Pescetelli (somewhat chillingly) adds: “Internet users will have to coordinate at scale and collectively help the actor to defeat Zookd. If they fail, the consequences could be disastrous.” Something anyone who stands in opposition politically across the Americas and beyond is beginning to understand all too well, thanks to an ever increasing number of Zookd-like characters. The revolution might not be televised, but undoubtedly it will be tweeted and you can follow MIT’s BeeMe experiment here: @beeme_mit
Watch the experiment trailer here: BeeMe
How to participate: Just go to http://beeme.online on Halloween night. There will be a link to play the game. Simply login and start playing!
Business Insider, October 27 2018