The people 'possessed' by computers
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of BBC
Posted: July 26th, 2015
Sophia Ben-Achour ... is an echoborg a living, breathing person who has temporarily given themselves over to become a robots mouthpiece. Whatever she says originated in a chatbot across the internet, and is then fed to her through a small earpiece. The bizarre set-up has a serious purpose: to understand the way that the body and appearance of artificial intelligence can shape our perception. Its particularly crucial to our understanding of AI because in the future we may be surrounded by machines that are indistinguishable from ourselves and we need to know how we will react. Kevin Corti, one of the researchers, [is investigating this by combining] a human body with a robot mind, so that people actually believe they are encountering another person. Corti and his supervisor Alex Gillespie were inspired by work on cyranoids an experiment invented by the controversial psychologist Stanley Milgram. He is most famous for his notorious experiment on obedience ... showing how easily we will harm another rather than question authority. By the end of his life, however, Milgram seems to have turned his mind to the gentler subject of body perception. When we are talking to someone ... are our opinions pre-formed, based solely on what a person looks like? Milgram [eventually] set up experiments in which a cyranoid is fed words from another person in another room, through a small radio transmitter in the ear.
Note: Stanley Milgram's early experiments revealed some uncomfortable truths about mind control, while his later work informs the research described above. This shows that most people can not tell if they are speaking with the person in front of them, someone else remotely telling that person what to say, or a robot. This is further evidence that everyday perceptions are manipulable.