Eliza Redux by Adrianne Wortzel and StudioBlue

Currently in the Turbulence Spotlight is the just-launched Eliza Redux. The project by by Adrianne Wortzel and StudioBlue at the Cooper Union features a physical robot that is accessible online in sessions that users can sign up for: “one who, having passed the Turing test with flying colors, thinks it is a human psychoanalyst and persists in offering online pseudo- psychoanalytic sessions.” As the announcement explains, “Peer consultation is available in the Reception Area as well as archived sessions and other reference materials.”

This human-robot interaction project is inspired by a very early electronic literature work, Joseph Weizenbaum’s 1964-1966 Doctor character, which ran on Weizenbaum’s Eliza system and allowed for text-based human conversation with a computer playing the role of a psychotherapist. The original Eliza/Doctor is widely considered to be the first interactive computer character. Janet Murray, writing in Hamlet on the Holodeck, refers to the first believable conversation with this system as “the moment in the history of the computer that demonstrated its representational and narrative power with the same startling immediacy as the Lumières’ train did for the motion picture camera.”