We use cookies to give you the best personal experience on our website. If you continue to use our site without changing your cookie settings, you agree we may place these cookies on your device. You can change your cookie settings at any time but if you do , you may lose some functionality on our website . More information can be found in our privacy policy.
Please provide more information.
Stylus no longer supports Internet Explorer 7, 8 or 9. Please upgrade to IE 11, Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Edge. This will ensure you have the best possible experience on the site.
Brief Published: 31 Oct 2018

MIT Hands the Internet Control of a Human for Halloween

MIT's BeeMe

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is celebrating Halloween with a digital social experiment that will let online users control a hired actor in real time.

BeeMe is an interactive audience experience telling the story of an evil artificial intelligence that has been accidentally released online. Users must collectively co-ordinate to direct the human actor on a mission to defeat this opponent. The game will kick off at 11pm US EST on October 31.

Users can participate by logging into the BeeMe website, where a live video stream will reveal the actor's point of view. Through a crowd-control function similar to that seen in Twitch Plays Pokemon sessions (mentioned back in 2015's The Next Wave of Social Media), users will be able to suggest actions, and then vote on which one the actor should take. The top-ranked option will then be carried out by the actor, who will surrender their free will for the duration of the experiment.

To stop crowd control from morphing into sadistic mob mentality, MIT has put a few guidelines in place. Commands that break the law, put the actor (whose gender has not yet been revealed) in physical danger, or violate their privacy, will not be permitted.

Experiences with crowd interaction are an audience draw. During its run, Twitch Plays Pokemon averaged more than 80,000 viewers at any time, and holds the Guinness World Record for the most participants – 1,165,140 players – in a single-player online video game. Now, Amazon-owned e-sports live-streaming platform Twitch is capitalising on audience interaction with its ecosystems of Extensions – mini programmes streamers can use to interact with and collect micropayments from their viewers.

For more on captivating audiences with interactive content, check out The Future of Television.