The ELIZA Effect, VR, and CUIs

“The ELIZA effect, in computer science, is the tendency to unconsciously assume computer behaviors are analogous to human behaviors.” – Wikipedia

An experiment designed to evoke the ELIZA effect with a combination of 3D animation and a conversational user interface (CUI)
A chatterbot with manners and body language – idoru.js at http://idoru.ca

The ELIZA effect is named after a “chatterbot” called ELIZA that was developed between 1964 and 1966 at MIT. A “chatterbot” is a computer program that conducts a conversation.

ELIZA’s creator, Joseph Weizenbaum, said it was a a “parody” of “the responses of a nondirectional psychotherapist in an initial psychiatric interview.” (Weizenbaum 1976, p. 188)

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Introducing Idoru.js

idoru.js is an experiment I’m working on with artificial characters in virtual worlds. The idea is that to provide good “user experience” (UX) in a virtual world, a character must have good “stage presence” to stimulate engagement.

The idea is to create a framework for an artificial character that is charming and attentive to the user. This character can then be “dressed up” with any imaginable avatar. It can be given any “job” that anyone cares to script.

A screenshot of the very first prototype of idoru.js - with a rudimentary avatar and chatbot.
First idoru.js experiment.

A good suit and deep knowledge are not enough to make a person engaging in the real world. A person needs body language. A person needs to be attentive to the person they are engaging. They need to make eye contact. They need to interact with a person’s personal space in a thoughtful, polite way.

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