Back in the 1960s, there had been optimistic dreams that it would be possible to develop computers that could think like human beings. Scientists then spent years trying to programme the rules that governed human thought but they never worked. One computer scientist, at MIT, became so disillusioned that he decided to build a computer programme, that would parody these hopeless attempts. He was called Joseph Weizenbaum and he built what he claimed was a computer psychotherapist. Just like a therapist, people could come and talk to the machine by typing in their problems. Weizenbaum called the programme ‘Eliza’. He modelled it on a real psychotherapist called Carl Rogers who was famous for simply repeating back to the patient what they had just said. And that is what Eliza did.


Weizenbaum was astonished. He discovered that everyone who tried Eliza became engrossed. They would sit for hours telling the machine about their inner feelings and incredibly intimate details of their lives. They also liked it because it was free of any kind of patronising elitism. One person said, ‘After all, the computer doesn’t burn out, look down on you, or try to have sex with you.’ What Eliza showed was that in an age of individualism what made feel people secure was having themselves reflected back to them – just like in a mirror. Artificial intelligence changed direction. It started to create new systems that did just that but on a giant scale. They were called intelligent agents. They worked by monitoring individuals, gathering vast amounts of data about their past behavior and then looked for patterns and correlations for which they could predict what they would want in the future. It was a system that ordered the world in a way that was centered around you. And in an age of anxious individualism, frightened of the future, that was reassuring. Just like Eliza. A safe bubble that protected you from the complexities of the world outside. – HyperNormalisation, 2016

BBC-documentaire van Adam Curtis.
I’m shell shocked.
Ik heb er geen zin meer in.
Feeling sick.
Sneezing panda komt ook langs.
Burnout van bubbel, je weet dat je niet moet kijken – ik heb geklikt.