#TechTuesday: College Students Create Social Experiment to Control a Human

Technology

(WTNH) — The public frequently relies on social media to make decisions in every day life. Platforms such as Google’s GMail now auto-completes words and sentences, while many people also utilize polling features on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to receive the opinion of complete strangers online. 

What happens when every single decision of someone’s day is determined by strangers or programs that use artificial intelligence technology?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been known to produce graduates that excel in the fields of science and technology. The school has the MIT Media Lab which focuses on research in interesting areas like programming and artificial intelligence.

Every year, the Lab has a stand-out project – last year, a student created artificial intelligence software for a character to write its’ own horror story. It’s not a plot from a movie. This year, they will be executing a mass online social experiment beginning at 11 p.m. ET on Halloween night.

The project, created by eight students, is called BeeMe. The bio on their Twitter account as well as the graphic on their website poses the question, “How does it feel to be the internet?”

On Twitter, there is also a video about the concept to watch and learn more about.

The aim, as stated in a press release, is to “shed a new light on human potential in the digital era”.

There aren’t too many details made public just yet, however, it has been compared to a choose-your-own-adventure concept and the ability to control another human being.

One actor will give up his free will and participants accessing BeeMe, collectively called “The Hive”, will be able to control his decisions and actions for about a two-hour window of time — however, it is all controlled by the participants. The purpose of the game is to follow the story of evil Artificial Intelligence accidentally released online.

Users that are contributing to the actions have to coordinate and help the actor defeat the evil power.  There are limits to what the crowd-generated commands can make the actor do; he can not break the law, be put in danger or expose anything private.

Commands can be typed into a box or they can be voted up and down, similar to Reddit upvoting. The higher the command is voted up in real-time, the actor will then perform that action.

MIT has revealed that the project is a study in collective intelligence, digital and social interactions, privacy, ethics and entertainment to learn about our digital society.

No Halloween plans? Participate and see what the outcome is by accessing beeme.online beginning at 11 p.m. ET on Halloween night.

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