ELIZA Gets Drafted

Friendly advice to Pentagon planners trying to come up with a high-tech fix for PTSD: If your project's demo video could be broadcast as a sketch on Saturday Night Live without changing anything in it at all, you might be on the wrong track. That goes double if the clip could also serve as the creepy opening to a dystopian science fiction film:

I suspect this will have all the therapeutic, stress-reducing effects of encountering an automated operator on the phone.

Wired has more on the project here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • sarcasmic||

    1th

  • Just Dropping By||

    Things like this always remind me of the "virtual confessionals" from THX 1138 -- "Are you happy?"

  • Just Dropping By||

    A link to a clip of one of the confessional scenes for those who haven't seen the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ly_djozCksg

    By the way, the Wired article says that in real life the patients will "enter a private kiosk" to interact with the therapist, making even more like the film.

  • Hugh Akston||

    So I guess this was meant to allay any lingering doubts that the military sees soldiers as anything more than numbered bullet-catchers.

    I wonder if recruiters have given up on the old "serve your country" line.

  • A Frayed Knot||

    Actually, if that's how they saw the returning soldiers, they wouldn't even bother with this effort.

  • Randian||

    They do view us that way, and yes you would "bother", because more suicides = less numbered bullet-sponges.

  • D.D. Driver||

    Watching this literally gave me chills down my spine. Dubbayou Tee Eff?

    "Hey, dude? This is already super creepy so lets put an eerie piano track underneath. Whatayasay?!?"

  • SugarFree||

    "war fighters" Is that current mil-lingo, or something they came up with for the horrifying video?

  • A Frayed Knot||

    That's what they're called by the DoD now -a-days.

  • SugarFree||

    Thanks. It shifts so much it's hard to keep up with.

  • Aresen||

    It sounds better than "Janissaries".

  • Randian||

    No it doesn't! Janissaries is the greatest name for warriors ever.

  • JW||

    Sounds too Brady Bunch.

  • Aresen||

    I think the chattering classes might twig to the origin of the word and get a tad upset.

    Especially some of the Team Red mouth-breathers who got upset about a sand-storm being called a 'haboob' a few months back.

  • Braadacus Maximus||

    How realistically can it chant "oo-rah"?

  • ||

    ^No relation.

  • ||

    I actually think that's a pretty cool idea. Graphics could use some improving (although the uncanny valley might inhibit people's ability to open up), but if it helps people cope with their issues then more power to 'em.

  • Aresen||

    You want creepy lines that could work as an opening for a dystopian science fiction movie?

    "I, ***, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

    ***Insert one of the following, according to your choice of dystopia:

    1) Barack Hussein Obama
    2) Hillary Rodham Clinton
    3) Richard John Santorum
    4) Joseph Robinette* Biden
    5) Willard** Mitt Romney
    6) Newclear Titties# Gingrich

    * 'Robinette'? Are you kidding me?
    ** 'Willard'? I think there already was a bad science fiction movie by that name.
    # Especially for ProLib.

  • ||

    Is the novelized version a Choose Your Own Adventure book?

  • Aresen||

    The game would be "Choose your own suicide."

  • D.D. Driver||

    Max Headroom is my therapist.

  • Randian||

    No p-p-p-problem....

  • db||

    Sometimes I just want to go...sideways. S-S-S-Sideways. Sideways.

  • JW||

    S-s-s-s-w-w-w-agger.

    (This is text for the fucking squirrels.)

  • Pro Libertate||

    Thanks, but it's Newcular.

    As for Robinette, Gateway fans should recognize that name.

  • ||

    I do, which is one of the Reasons I posted it the other day, Pro'L Dib.

  • AlmightyJB||

    All sessions end by blaming Bush for all their problems.

  • Aresen||

    I wonder how long Team Blue will run against GWB.

  • ||

    It's an eternal well: The Shrub legitimately governed overall, poorly.

  • JW||

    I have relatives who still tell Reagan jokes.

    Methinks it's going to be a long, long run against Dubya. He's the perpetual 1st envelope.

  • ||

    "A chaise lounge, a stick of butter, and a lock of Brooke Shield's hair..."

  • A Frayed Knot||

    I realize is it's easier for the Hit-n-Run crowd to bring the snark rather than actually think about the problem, but there are some legitimate motivations behind this program, some of which are spelled out in the Wired article:

    - A lot of returning soldiers don't want to talk with a therapist, whether due to worries about anonymity or a fear of looking weak for needing therapy. This is an attempt to work around those issues.

    - The issue of logistics is a major factor. A lot these soldiers end up living in rural areas that don't have a lot of access to therapists and psychologists. The virtual environment helps overcome distances.

    I realize it's hard to believe but there is actually a significant push by the DoD to take care of returning warfighters. And for full disclosure I do work in the defense industry but not on any of these DARPA programs.

  • D.D. Driver||

    Nobody is saying that the "motivations" are not legitimate or that DOD is not "pushing" to take care of "warfighters." What we are saying is only the government would think the way to heal a damaged psyche is have vets speak with creepy cartoon characters from the Polar Express.

    Good intentions only get you so far.

  • Hugh Akston||

    When you work for .gov, good intentions are all you need.

  • A Frayed Knot||

    Except that it's not "the way", it is a tool to help in the process. And just because you think it's "creepy" doesn't mean it won't work. The proof will be in the pudding.

  • D.D. Driver||

    "The proof will be in the pudding."

    Oh, I agree!

  • JW||

    How can you have any pudding when you don't eat your meat?

  • ||

    You have had black pudding, JW, no?

  • JW||

    Is this another euphemism for a twisted sex act?

  • ||

    Probably.

  • Randian||

    I realize it's hard to believe but there is actually a significant push by the DoD to take care of returning warfighters.

    Because the suicide rate and public blowback re: PTSD has gotten so strong.

    If the military actually cared, they wouldn't make coming up on the net with problems so painful for Service Members.

  • ||

    ^^^THIS!^^^

  • ||

    "Uncanny Valley Therapy: We put the The in Rapey"

  • ||

    Everybody say it together: FUUUUUUUUCCCCKKKK

  • db||

    Terrible. But it should be expected. Wasn't it standard VC (and other guerrilla insurgency) practice to terrorize troops and damage morale by trying to injure them in the most horrific ways possible? Not to mention Bouncing Betty.

  • JW||

    Does it work better than this?

  • yet another dave||

    I wonder if they'll include a sim that'll put on skanky clothes and... you know, do stuff

  • anon||

    Jesus christ. How much did "SimCoach" cost us?

    Why wouldn't these assholes just chat with Cleverbot instead?

    Fucking fuck.

  • ||

    I'm constantly amazed at the over-inflated prices DoD is willing to pay its web contractors (compared with comparable web sites at other agencies). The legend of the $500 hammer lives on...

  • D.D. Driver||

    In the future everyone will simply Ask Jeeves (assuming the present is 1999).

  • ||

    WTF is wrong with the word "soldier", now? Why "warfighter"?

  • Randian||

    Soldier is exclusive to the Army.

    Soldiers (Army), Sailors (Navy), Airmen (USAF), Marines - collectively known as "Service Members", but the DoD shifted marketing a about five years ago to call everyone "Warriors", "War Fighter", etc.

    For example: we changed the Leadership Development and Assessment Course (ROTC) to "Warrior Forge" and the Primary Leadership Development Course (new NCOs) to "Warrior Leadership Course".

    I try to refrain from saying things like this, but the change is totally gay and everyone hates it.

  • ||

    It's like calling everyone in medical "health care provider" or "health care professional".

    I'm a physician, dammit!

  • ||

    No, you're a drug-addled butcher.

  • ||

    He's Dr. Spaceman on 30 Rock?!?!?!

  • JW||

    Negative. I am a meat popsicle.

  • ||

    Spare me your self-pitying faggotry that I rescinded my ringing endorsement and refused your request for a boob job.

  • ||

    ^Reply to Warty.

  • ||

    It was not a request!

  • Just Dropping By||

    Don't ask, don't tell, Randian.

  • RUExperienced||

    why not use something that is safe and known to be effective?

    Oh, right, it's a schedule I drug because it actually makes you feel good.

  • anon||

    Because THERE'S NO CONSENSUS!!!!!!1111one!

    More seriously; who the fuck *isn't* happier on X?

  • RUExperienced||

    That's sort of my point too. I seriously wonder how many people could stop taking their daily SSRI if they could use a dose of MDMA as needed (probably not more than once a month). Of course that would be bad for Big Pharma and counselors of all stripes.

  • CatoTheElder||

    OMG. The same Army that uses video games to entice kids to enlist is now using another video game to assuage the psychological damage caused by their enlistment.

    Lovely. A lovely example of just how much the state really cares.

  • anon||

    A "video game" implies there's some fun to it.

    This is just retarded.

  • CatoTheElder||

    True dat, but it is a video that plays games with disturbed vets.

    The ruling elites play another game in the real world, and use the virtual game to show how much they really care, and thereby assuage what remains of their consciences.

  • Paul.||

    I didn't have the sound up, was the guy in the video talking about Substance D?

  • Paul.||

    This sounds like New Earth Army technology.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I keep having Medal of Honor flashbacks. That alligator...

  • BoscoH||

    I'm guessing the hot blonde gets a lot more sim coaching work.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement