ELIZA effect

The ELIZA effect, in computer science, is the tendency to unconsciously assume computer behaviors are analogous to human behaviors, despite conscious knowledge to the contrary. It is the result of a subtle cognitive dissonance between the user's awareness of programming limitations and their behavior towards the output of the program. The discovery of the ELIZA effect was an important development in artificial intelligence, demonstrating the principle of using social engineering rather than explicit programming to pass a Turing test.


The effect is named for the 1966 chatterbot ELIZA, developed by MIT computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum. When executing Weizenbaum's "DOCTOR" script, ELIZA parodied a Rogerian psychotherapist, largely by rephrasing the "patient"'s replies as questions :

:Human: Well, my boyfriend made me come here.:ELIZA: Your boyfriend made you come here?:Human: He says I'm depressed much of the time.:ELIZA: I am sorry to hear you are depressed.:Human: It's true. I'm unhappy.:ELIZA: Do you think coming here will help you not to be unhappy?citation|title=dialogues with colorful personalities of early ai|last=Güzeldere|first=Güven|otherauthors=Franchi, Stefano|url=http://www.stanford.edu/group/SHR/4-2/text/dialogues.html|accessdate=2007-07-30]

Though designed strictly as a mechanism to support "natural language conversation" with a computer,cite journal|first=Joseph|last=Weizenbaum|title=ELIZA--A Computer Program For the Study of Natural Language Communication Between Man and Machine|journal=Communications of the ACM|publisher=Massachusetts Institute of Technology|volume=9|month=January|year=1966|accessdate=2008-06-17|url=http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~lib51/files/classics-eliza1966.html|doi=10.1145/365153.365168|pages=36] ELIZA's "DOCTOR" script was found to be surprisingly successful in eliciting emotional responses from users who, in the course of interacting with the program, began to ascribe understanding and motivation to the program's output.cite book|first=Lucy A.|last=Suchman|title=Plans and Situated Actions: The problem of human-machine communication|publisher=Cambridge UniversityPress|year=1987|isbn=0521337399|page=24|accessdate=2008-06-17|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=AJ_eBJtHxmsC&dq=Suchman+Plans+and+Situated+Actions&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0] As Weizenbaum later wrote, "I had not realized ... that extremely short exposures to a relatively simple computer program could induce powerful delusional thinking in quite normal people."cite book|first=Joseph|last=Weizenbaum|title=Computer power and human reason: from judgment to calculation|year=1976|publisher=W. H. Freeman|page=7] . Indeed, ELIZA's code had not been designed to evoke this reaction in the first place. Upon observation, researchers discovered users unconsciously assuming ELIZA's questions implied interest and emotional involvement in the topics discussed, "even when they consciously knew that ELIZA did not simulate emotion".cite news|title=Rise of Roboethics|last=Billings|first=Lee|date=2007-07-16|publisher=Seed|url=http://www.seedmagazine.com/news/2007/07/rise_of_roboethics.php|quote=(Joseph) Weizenbaum had unexpectedly discovered that, even if fully aware that they are talking to a simple computer program, people will nonetheless treat it as if it were a real, thinking being that cared about their problems - a phenomenon now known as the "Eliza Effect."]

ee also

*Turing test
*Loebner Prize
*Intentional stance
*uncanny valley



* Hofstadter, Douglas. "Preface 4: The Ineradicable Eliza Effect and Its Dangers." (from "Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought", Basic Books: New York, 1995)
* Turkle, S., Eliza Effect: tendency to accept computer responses as more intelligent than they really are (from "Life on the screen- Identity in the Age of the Internet", Phoenix Paperback: London, 1997)
* [http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/E/ELIZA-effect.html ELIZA effect] , from the Jargon File, version 4.4.7. Accessed 8 October 2006.

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