The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is offering users of its BeeMee program the chance to control the actions of a hired actor on Halloween night.
The MIT Media Lab is known for pulling some intriguing stunts near the end of October. In 2016, researchers devised an AI program named “Nightmare Machine” which distorted regular images with creepy effects. A year later, researchers made an artificial intelligence software they called “shelly” that writes its own horror stories. Well, for this year, the MIT Media Lab is launching a program called BeeMee.
According to MIT Media’s press release, BeeMee will be a “massive immersive social game” that intends to “shed a new light on human potential in the new digital era.”
“BeeMe is the first reality augmented game. In times where algorithms make most of our decisions for us, one individual will entirely give up their free will for a day, to be guided by a large crowd of users through an epic quest to defeat an evil AI.”
“BeeMe will redefine the way in which we understand social interactions online and in real life. It will push crowdsourcing and collective intelligence to the extreme to see where it breaks down,” the statement continues.
Trick or treat? pic.twitter.com/1Dr2Z0JGis
— BeeMe (@beeme_mit) October 15, 2018
Starting at 8:00 P.M. Eastern Time on Halloween, people can suggest actions to an actor playing a character in the game on a mission to destroy an “evil AI”.
“Halloween night at 11 p.m. ET, an actor will give up their free will and let internet users control their every action,” said lead researcher Niccolò Pescetelli, who studies collective intelligence at MIT Media Lab.
Pescetelli explains that: “The event will follow the story of an evil AI by the name of Zookd, who has accidentally been released online. Internet users will have to coordinate at scale and collectively help the actor (also a character in the story) to defeat Zookd. If they fail, the consequences could be disastrous.”
According to MIT, the purpose of this experiment is to see the kind of decisions people would ask another human player to make, considering the user has complete power over the actor’s actions.
Here’s how this would work: internet participants are allowed to create polls of the some suggestions on actions that the player should take next. This can include commands such as “run away,” “open the fridge,” “jump”, to which they vote on the following step that the human player should take next.
Once the actor chooses the top-voted action, he must surrender his/her will and perform what is being asked until the experiment is over. Pescetelli expects the game to last merely two hours, but said that “it will be the audience who ultimately decides” when the game will end.
Participants in this social experiment will be able to see and hear the actor’s actions from his point of view (POV). The only caveat of the experiment is that users cannot suggest actions that will denigrate the actor or put his/her privacy or wellbeing in danger.
“Anything that violates the law or puts the actor, their privacy, or their image in danger is strictly forbidden,” says Pescetelli.
“Anything else is allowed. We are very curious about what [is] going to happen,” he adds.
Researchers at MIT are interested to see if people can work together to give the actor the appropriate responses to complete the game.
This type of experiment has been done before with “Twitch Plays Pokémon” which went viral back in 2014.
In “Twitch Plays Pokémon,” an anonymous streamer from Australia played a mock game of the 1998 Pokémon Red on streaming platform Twitch.
The participants of the game were able to give the streamer commands such as “down,” “up,” “left.” “right,” in the comment section, and the game came to a completion in 16 days.
The “Twitch Plays Pokemon” channel broke the Guinness World Record for most participants in an online game, garnering an excess of 1,165,140 single players.
As for MIT’s experiment, we are yet to find out how successful it will be. In case you want to participate, the whole event will be broadcasted live at beeme.online.
“In theory there is no limit to the number of users that the platform can support, but we will know for sure only on Halloween,” says Pescetelli.