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By (February 8, 2009) ()

I chose items that I thought could actually be implemented – if not entirely, then at least an element of it, or something that is inspired by it.  I also selected items that were behavior-related, and hence subject to persuasion; a number of the items in the list were more like tools or detectors.

Unichapel (Robotic Confession Booth)

THX 1138 finds his way into what looks like a phone booth, but it turns out to be a kind of robotic confessional – a unichapel

This is sort of the “persuasive” variation of the lie detector.  A lie detector just tries to distinguish between truth and lies, whereas this invention tries to persuade the user to tell the truth. I can imagine a number of techniques that could be used; many of them would be based on police interrogation techniques, though – such as making the user believe the robot is truly sympathetic, making the user either very relaxed and open to suggestion, or perhaps afraid of getting more severe (metaphysical) punishment if they don’t confess. One advantage of technology might be that it might be able to circumvent people’s reluctance to say something embarrassing or shameful to another human – if this was just for getting people to say things for their own psychological catharsis (as opposed to interrogation), it could draw things out. Also,  it can exploit people’s religious faith if it used visual and physical cues from the religion’s beliefs and practices.  If it were “exposed,” and you knew exactly what it was trying to do however, you might not want to tell it anything.


Subliminal Billboards

Enormous outdoor billboards that are totally blank – or are they?

This made me think that some clever ad agency or company could run a campaign where they associated completely blank ad spaces with themselves, then anytime someone saw a blank space where there is normally an ad, they would think of the company. The company would make themselves look like they’re helping the public by reducing the ad clutter in the world, yet still promoting their brand. They’d have to start by running TV or web ads that were blank, but maybe had some initial frame saying that the blank space was brought to you by that company, then after you see the ad enough times you would associate blank white space with the company (even if they didn’t pay for it!). This might still work if it were exposed; people don’t have that much conscious control over the subconscious associations they develop after enough exposure to ads.


Extra-Factual Memory

A “memory” placed in a person’s mind by artifice, rather than by real life experience.

I’m not sure if you can really place complicated memories into people’s minds, but through enough repetition you can probably make some small memories into people’s minds. The page for this item talks about an experiment where people were shown a series of words related to anger, then asked days later if they had seen the word “anger”, and 40% said they had.  A technology (web site, TV program, ad, game, etc) could show a strong story, video, or other content with some message or detail that they want you to remember, and if your conscious mind is following the story, you might process the detail into your memory and not remember that it was given to you by the technology.  If it were exposed that it was trying to inject that detail, you’d probably remember that it was not a real-life experience, though.

February 8, 2009

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