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Getting to know ELIZA: ChatGPT’s Great Grandmother

Wednesday, October 11, 2023 @ 4:00 pm 6:00 pm

MIT Building 32 (Stata Center), Room 155

32 Vassar Street
Cambridge, MA 02139 United States
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A computer screen image showing a mock psychotherapist conversation with the ELIZA chatbot.

A talk by Mark C. Marino, founder of critical code studies. Marino is Professor of Digital Writing at the University of Southern California, where he directs the Humanities and Critical Code Studies Lab. His books include Critical Code Studies, 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); GOTO 10, Reading Project, and Hallucinate This!, an authorized autobiography of ChatGPT.

Professor Marino is exploring the code of MIT’s most famous program, ELIZA. Programmed by Joseph Weizenbaum, the 1966 ELIZA offered an early AI platform for conversational exchange as DOCTOR, a Rogerian psychotherapist.  Sixty years later a team of scholars uncovered the MAD-SLIP source code in the MIT archives and have embarked on an expedition through the code that has led them through twisty little passages into chambers of culture, history, and technological innovation.  

Professor Marino will be joined by members of Team ELIZA (Peggy Weil in-person and others by Zoom):

  • David M. Berry (Computational Philosopher) is Professor of Digital Humanities, University of Sussex. He is the author of Digital Humanities: Knowledge and Critique in a Digital Age the Philosophy of Software. 
  • Jeff Shrager (Polymathic Programmer) an Adjunct Professor in the Symbolic Systems Program at Stanford where he teaches, among other things, Human-AI Interaction Analysis.
  • Peggy Weil is an multidisciplinary artist. Her work spans interactive digital and immersive technologies, serious games, virtual environments, film and performance, including, the possibly the first net-art chatbot, MrMind.  THE BLURRING TEST: Songs of MrMind, a song cycle based on MrMind’s transcripts, premiered in NY in March 2023. Weil is an alum of ArchMach/MIT Media Lab.  She currently teaches at USC School of Cinematic Arts. 
  • Art Schwarz (Code Maven) is a software engineer and developer in the aerospace and automotive industry. He has developed a version of SLIP called gSLip. 
  • Anthony Hay (ELIZA Pro) is the developer of an identically operating version of Eliza as the original. He has developed an understanding of the original Eliza written in MAD-SLIP and provided insight into its operations.
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