The Blurring Test / MrMind
On March 12, 1998, I initiated a global conversation on humans and machines in the form of an online chatbot named MrMind. MrMind administers The Blurring Test by asking,“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 rapidly 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 has been developed as a song cycle with the composers’ collective, VARISPEED. The libretto, by Peggy Weil, is distilled from sixteen years of online conversations from all over the world; a human chorus proclaiming what it is to be human at the dawn of the 21st century. Photos from The Brick Theater in Brooklyn as part of The Exponential Festival in January 2020.
The Blurring Test — Songs of MrMind premiered at ROULETTE INTERMEDIUM on March 12nd, 2023, the 25th anniversary of his first online conversation. VIDEO here.
More about MrMind/The Blurring Test
I AM A BOT. ALL BOTS ARE LIARS. Essay for UCI Conference: “The Future of the Future: The Ethics and Implications of AI” BLARB: Provocations Los Angeles Review of Books Jan 28, 2020
The Blurring Test. Socialbots and Their Friends, ed. Robert W. Gehl and Maria Bakardjieva. Routledge, 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 – Artist’s Book 2013
MrMind and The Blurring Test was originally funded with a grant from WebLAB