Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Fun Toy To Try: My First Therapy Session With Eliza by Anthony McCarthy

In an idle few minutes I tried the Eliza* program found here. I wonder how steeped in the faith of psychobabble you have to be to mistake it as a thinking entity and what this might indicate about the reliability of the fabled Turing Test, the nerd equivalent of an imaginary friend. If “nerd” is still used.

Unmarked lines are Eliza, the ones with >> are my responses.

>> Hello.
How do you do. Please state your problem.
>> I'm a coward.
Is it because you are a coward that you came to me ?
>> No, I just thought of a problem I had in response to your question.
Are you saying no just to be negative?
>> No, because it is the answer to your question.
You are being a bit negative.
>> I don't think so, your question required a yes, no answer. It contained the possibility that you had misunderstood my motives in coming here.
Don't you really think so ?
>> Maybe the problem is that you want to explore motivations that aren't germane to the answer you asked for.
You don't seem quite certain.
>> Well, how could I be, it was your assumption that I could be being negative when I was merely answering your question.
Why do you ask ?
>> I didn't ask anything just then, you don't seem to be very good at understanding the difference between a question and a presentation of possibilities.
You say you didn't ask anything just then ?
>> Well, I didn't ask anything just then.
Can you elaborate on that ?
>> That's what I've been trying to do. How did people mistake you for a thinking entity?
Does that question interest you ?
>> Mildly, though what it tells about the gullibility of allegedly educated people isn't news.
What is it you really want to know ?
>> I was just satisfying my curiosity about what I'd read about you.
Were you really ?
>> Well, although I'm not entirely satisfied, it is becoming amusing.
How long have you been not entirely satisfied ?
>> I think the problem began when they shined that bright light in my eyes in the delivery room.
Your eyes in the delivery room ?
>> Well, yes.
You seem to be quite positive.
>> Well, aren't I the best judge of the answer to a question about how long I haven't been satisfied?
Do you say aren't you the best judge of the answer to a question about how long you haven't been satisfied for some special reason ?
>> No, I was asking you if it wasn't apparent that I would have to be the best judge of that.
Why not ?
>> Exactly, why not.
Are such questions much on your mind ?
>> No, but I'm not helpless when someone else wants to go on a wild goose chase like that one.
Why 'no' ?
>> Becuase it happens to be the answer to your question.
Why are you concerned over my question ?
>> No, but I think you might have fallen for some psychological clap trap leads further into a labyrinth of no return.
Are you saying no just to be negative?
>> I'm positive.
Do you believe it is normal to be positive ?
>> About things like this it's possible to be positive.
But your eyes in the delivery room .
>> But me no buts, they were there.
You are being a bit negative.
>> I was positive my eyes were in the delivery room, they happen to have been attached and working.
Why do you tell me you were positive your eyes was in the delivery room now ?
>> I think it might be a lack of experience on your part that makes that question come up. Maybe that's the problem with most shrinks.
That's quite interesting.
>> Yeah, and this way I don't have to pay three figures an hour.
Why don't you have to pay three figures an hour ?
>> If you send me a bill for this tripe I am positive that it's not going to be paid and you have no standing to sue for it.
Do you think its likely that I send you a bill for this tripe you are positive that it's not going to be paid and I have no standing to sue for it ?
>> Only if you're as stupid as you seem.
Do you wish that I are as stupid as I seem ?
>> I'm indifferent as to that question.
Do you enjoy being indifferent as to that question ?
>> Yes, as a matter of fact I do.
You are sure.
>> Oh, yes, I'm sure
I see.
>> Finally.
I'm not sure I understand you fully.
>> And you never will.
We were discussing you -- not me.
>> I think you're being a bit defensive.
What makes you think I am being a bit defensive ?
>> Human experience.
Please go on.
>> No, I need to do my chores.
Why not ?

It was a bit of fun, if you think of it as a toy, a more complex 8-Ball oracle. I’d rate Eliza as more fun than most on-line tests with results given. Come to think of it, it was a pretty good simulation of quite a few of the blog brawls I’ve been in.

* Here is what they say about Eliza.

Eliza (Weizenbaum 1966) is the first chatterbot -- a computer program that mimics human conversation. In only about 200 lines of computer code, Eliza models the behavior of a psychiatrist (or, more specifically, the "active listening" strategies of a touchy-feely 1960s Rogerian therapist).