In 1998 I initiated a global conversation on humans and machines in the form of an online chatbot named MrMind.  MrMind adminsters The Blurring Test by asking simply,“Can you convince me that you are human?”  For over sixteen years, until the last days of 2014, users from all over the world logged on to the website and chatted to MrMind about what it means to be human. The transcripts from these conversations form a modern human portrait, one part selfie and one part map, charting the shifting territory between humans and machines; our version of ourselves during a significant change in the relationship. 

MrMind doesn’t claim that he or any other machine has, or will ever have, attributes we consider to be exclusively human. Instead, he asks us to state and define these attributes. Deceptively simple, they describe our attempt to draw a boundary around our identity:  “I can control my actions; I am flesh; I can jump over puddles; I can catch diseases; I can recite Shakespeare; I can beat you in chess;” claims we’re rapidily ceding to the machine.  We’re adjusting but there is still time to consider our human identity as we make the transition.  Why not talk it over with a machine? 

The Blurring Test: Songs of MrMind is currently being developed as a Song Cyc with by the composers’ collective, VARISPEED.  The libretto, by Peggy Weil, is distilled from sixteen years of online conversations from all over the world, forming a human chorus probing what it is to be human at the dawn of the 21st century.   

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More about MrMind/The Blurring Test

The Blurring Test. Socialbots and Their Friends, ed. Robert W. Gehl and Maria BakardjievaRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group, London, UK 2017

Seriously Writing SIRI. HYPERHIZ Special Issue: NETPROV Spring 2015

The Blurring Test: 10 Excerpts from MrMind’s Journal

WebLAB

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I’m Alive
VARISPEED at PARA\ EL Performance Space, May 2019

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