Eliza*, All Grown Up

MindMentorThe first “robot psychologist” has hung his/her/its shingle out:

People affected by emotional problems are often reluctant when they’re told to see a psychologist. Now, they can confidentially consult online MindMentor, the first robot psychologist. It will cost them €4.95 for one hour session (or about US$7.65 as of today). MindMentor has been developed by two Dutch psychologists specialized in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). The system was tested on 1,600 ‘customers’ from over the world and 47% of them said they were satisfied after only one session. I haven’t tested the system myself, but one thing is really interesting. Instead of looking at a database, MindMentor uses a personal process to discover the right solution with you.

[…]

“The absolutely unique feature of MindMentor is, that there is no real psychologist working behind the scene, but that MindMentor, by asking smart questions, addresses the unconscious mental resources of the client. With help from his colleagues RoboRorschach (projective testing) and ProvoBot (provocative humor), MindMentor can provide a solution or new perspective in a session of about an hour.”

The official MindMentor site is here.

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*The reference in the title is to ELIZA, an early “intelligent” computer program, variously described as a simulation or parody of a Rogerian psychologist. ELIZA influenced many of the computer games that were to follow it and, arguably, all of today’s modern computer and game console games.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. DL says:

    Perhaps these two Dutch Psychologists can use this on those who see no problem with threatening the life of a cartooninst or editor?

    Perhaps these two Dutch psychologists can use this machine on those Dutch medical doctors to see why (in the spirit of the Nazies) many of them have decided it’s okay to secretly chose which infirmed patients will die next?

    Perhaps these two Dutch psychologists can use this machine on those Dutch leaders and citizens who have no problem approving open homosexual behavior in public parks?

    This just proves that man’s failure is not in the scientific area, but in the social and moral.

  2. sam says:

    Joseph Weizenbaum, the man who wrote Eliza, died on Mar. 5. Interestingly, he became disenchanted with the idea of AI-based decision-making as a substitute for the human mind.

    From the NYT obit (3-13-08):

    [Eliza] made it possible for a person typing in plain English at a computer terminal to interact with a machine in a semblance of a normal conversation. To dispense with the need for a large real-world database of information, the software parodied the part of a Rogerian therapist, frequently reframing a client’s statements as questions

    In fact, the responsiveness of the conversation was an illusion, because Eliza was programmed simply to respond to certain key words and phrases. That would lead to wild non sequiturs and bizarre detours, but Mr. Weizenbaum later said that he was stunned to discover that his students and others became deeply engrossed in conversations with the program, occasionally revealing intimate personal details.

    “It was amazing the extent that people did not understand they were talking to a computer,” said Robert Fano, emeritus professor of electrical engineering and computer science at M.I.T. In the wake of the creation of Eliza, which was described in a technical paper in January 1966, a group of M.I.T. scientists, including Claude Shannon, a pioneer in the field of cybernetics, met in Concord, Mass., to discuss the social implications of the phenomenon, Mr. Fano said.

    The seductiveness of the conversations alarmed Mr. Weizenbaum, who came to believe that an obsessive reliance on technology was indicative of a moral failing in society, an observation rooted in his experiences as a child growing up in Nazi Germany.

  3. Neo says:

    I remember running ELIZA back in 1975.

    It was a large program for the day, written in SNOBOL (A Bell Labs invention) and frankly, pretty brain dead.

    The line Are you interested in that subject seemed to be the response for 1 out of 5 inputs. The best response came when entering a line that mentioned “girlfriend” and “sex” that prompted .. does your mother know about this ?