Trick or…trick: MIT launches new collective intelligence experiment for Halloween

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Is this creepy? Or extremely creepy?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab has taken the Halloween tradition of “Trick or treat” to a whole new level.

This year, MIT—which launched a project called Nightmare Machine for Halloween 2016 to teach AI what humans find grotesque—is letting internet users taking control of one person’s body in what they call a “dystopian game.”

Just like playing a video game, one actor hired by MIT will be at the will of internet users for one very special night. The project was inspired by an episode of Black Mirror, but is pushing it further: “We are taking an idea that has been popular in media culture and art for a while and making it real,” MIT researcher Niccolò Pescetelli said.

Starting at 11:00PM on Oct. 31, internet users can log in into the BeeMe project website and control an individual against an evil AI by the name of Zookd, who has accidentally been released online, MIT researcher Niccolò Pescetelli told Business Insider. According to MIT’s website, “BeeMe will redefine the way in which we understand social interactions online and in real life,” by pushing crowdsourcing and collective intelligence.

The project’s slogan is, “See what I see. Hear what I hear. Control my actions. Take my will. Be me.” The game is expected to last about two hours, although MIT won’t disclose too many details about how the night could unfold, other than the experiment will take place on MIT’s campus. MIT made one detail clear, however: There will be limits to what users can make the BeeMe actor do. 

“Anything that violates the law or puts the actor, their privacy, or their image in danger is strictly forbidden,” Pescetelli said. “Anything else is allowed. We are very curious about what [is] going to happen.”

The project serves a research purpose, too; Pescetelli and his team want to know if a group of people can essentially think in concert to make the actor to execute a series of fluid, logical tasks, or whether his actions will be unfocused and illogical because so many people are telling him what to do.

“Whatever the outcome, it will teach us something,” Pescetelli told the Daily Dot in a phone interview. The researcher added that if the experiment is successful, it could be transformed and used for entertainment purposes.

You can check out the experiment at beeme.online on Halloween night. So this year, no need to dress up and go out to have the creepiest night imaginable. Just log on to your computer and do it for somebody else!

H/T Business Insider

Stephanie Fillion

Stephanie Fillion

Stéphanie Fillion is a French-Canadian journalist covering politics and foreign affairs in Montreal, Canada. She has worked for Radio-Canada in Vancouver and was a San Paolo fellow at La Stampa in Turin. In 2015, she won the Eu-Canada Young Journalist Award. She holds an M.A. in Journalism, Politics and Global Affairs from Columbia Journalism School and a B.A. in Comparative Politics, History and Italian Studies from McGill University. Her work appeared in outlets such as Quartz, Vice News, Ipolitics, and PassBlue.