Provocation by Program: Imagining a Next-Revolution Eliza

Abstract (in English): 

What program could have the effect on today's popular consciousness that Joseph Weizenbaum's Eliza had in the mid-1960s? Eliza ignited numerous productive controversies about language, intelligence, and people's relationships to computers. The system has been hailed as the first and most important work of electronic literature. While other, more complex works have been innovative, challenging, and literary in ways that are perhaps more sophisticated, Eliza was an incisive program of great impact. We consider the provocative program within the contexts of computing from the 1960s to the present. Then, we identify several qualities, some of them not very obvious, that a similarly provocative literary program would need today.

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Scott Rettberg