My father is a mechanical engineer, and he is a professional inventor: he offers a design to a company and the company gets him a workshop, collaborators and salary for this project (in exchange for a patent). Once my father worked on a chemical plant, and the project involved an autoclave. The autoclave had to save a fixed temperature for a few months, so a father’s colleague had connected the sensors of the autoclave to a Rasberry Pi with some SMS gateway software. One time and another my father got an SMS with numbers from sensors and the phrase: “I’m getting cold! Help me!”. Usually, it was in the middle of the night, so we used to think the autoclave as a helpless and fanciful child.
A week ago I read an article about a medical experiment: scientists connect brain of paralyzed patient to a basic Nexus tablet — and the patient learned to control it with her brain waves and even googles. So, how do we think this patient, if we meet with her on some social media network? Presumably, we could never know about her disease, as well as about her half-cyber body. [http://singularityhub.com/2015/10/25/scientists-connect-brain-to-a-basic-tablet-paralyzed-patient-googles-with-ease/]. You can find more about the project here: [http://braingate2.org/index.asp]
As it was said 20 years ago: “the Internet is for porn”. Today we could say: “The Web is for bots”. They communicate with us via social media, instant messengers and even able to run a twitter account. When I worked is social media monitoring agency, bots were our “big pain”. Our computational linguist wasn’t able to create a reliable algorithm to identify them from the data because they used the words of real users. So, our measurements were less representative. This huge problem was mentioned in DEMOS report “The road to representivity”, and you can find pretty interesting paper about it here: [http://www.pnas.org/content/110/5/1600.abstract] (Caution: the Math!)
In June 2014 the chatter bot “Eugene Goostman” passed the Turing test — for a first time in the human history. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Goostman]
I introduced these examples as a proof that future from science-fiction books is here: today non-human and cyborgs can communicate with us, and they are part of our daily life. I didn’t mentioned online-gaming practice and Wikipedia bots and many other examples.
So: how do we take them? Do we humanize them? How does it change our life? I think, it is a question for social anthropology/psychology (and gender studies as a part of social anthropology) and computer science. Or linguistic, computational or not? Human-computer interaction?
(Sorry for any language mistakes).