Absolutely Nothing Will Go Wrong When MIT Lets the Internet Control a Real Person on Halloween

By Catie Keck on at

In a soon-to-launch online social experiment that is definitely in no way going to backfire, researchers with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab are reportedly planning to hand an individual’s free will over to the internet. The experiment, which is titled BeeMe and is being described by MIT as the “first reality augmented game,” will rely on collective commands from online participants to help the individual defeat an evil artificial intelligence program.

“BeeMe will redefine the way in which we understand social interactions online and in real life,” the experiment’s description reads. “It will push crowdsourcing and collective intelligence to the extreme to see where it breaks down.”

In what seems appropriate given how horrifying this all sounds, the experiment will take place on Halloween. MIT gave a sneak peek at what this might look like in a teaser shared to BeeMe’s Twitter account on 15 October.

So far, not a lot is known about what the experiment will actually entail, though the Verge reports the actor in the game will be a hire of MIT. Niccolò Pescetelli, who studies collective intelligence at MIT Media Lab and is leading the project, told Business Insider that the experiment “will follow the story of an evil AI by the name of Zookd, who has accidentally been released online.” He added that should the online participants fail to help the actor defeat Zookd, “the consequences could be disastrous.” Sounds fun!

Business Insider reports that there are two methods by which online participants can control the actor’s actions:

One is by writing in and submitting custom commands, such as “make coffee,” “open the door,” “run away,” and so on. The second way is by voting up or down on those commands, similar to the system used by Reddit. Once a command is voted to the top, the actor will presumably do that very thing.

Pescetelli told the site that the experiment is expected to last a couple of hours, and neither the location nor identity of the actor will be revealed. Because you’re probably wondering whether this experiment has the potential to go full Purge, anything illegal or that violates the safety or identity of the actor will be prohibited. But beyond that, Pescetelli said, anything goes.

“We are very curious about what [is] going to happen,” he told Business Insider.

BeeMe will begin at 11pm local time on Wednesday, 31 October (3am GMT on Thursday, 1 November). For one night only, step right up and don’t miss your chance to control the free will of another human being, something we can only imagine will go over swimmingly! [MIT Media Lab, Business Insider]