MIT researchers have developed a reality augmented game that brings the line between reality and true VR closer than ever. 

Engineers from the MIT Media Laboratory are back this year with their latest Halloween experiment. Researchers from the lab created a reality augmented game that will let anyone control another person. Known as BeeMe, the researchers claim that their game attempts to “shed a new light on human potential in the new digital era.”

The MIT Media Lab is best known for creating some bizarre technologies for Halloween. In 2016, the team invented an artificial intelligence program they called Nightmare Machine. The AI’s algorithm was designed to apply spooky filters on photos and turn them into images straight out of a person’s worst nightmare.

As if the Nightmare Machine wasn’t creepy enough, the team created another AI software program last year that they called “Shelley.” This was programmed by the researchers to write horror stories based on the tweets shared by the Twitter thread participants. If you’re a fan of horror stories, you may check out Stories by Shelley here.

BeeMee Reality Augmented Game

With BeeMee, the MIT engineers have taken a new approach. Instead of just designing another AI system, they opted for a “massive, immersive social game.” BeeMee will let a gamer control another person. The inspiration from this seems to come from a Season 5 Black Mirror episode scheduled to launch this year.

“Halloween night at 11 p.m. ET, an actor will give up their free will and let internet users control their every action,” Niccolò Pescetelli, a Postdoctoral Associate and one of the MIT Media Lab researchers who developed BeeMee, said in a statement.

“The event will follow the story of an evil AI by the name of Zookd, who has accidentally been released online. Internet users will have to coordinate at scale and collectively help the actor (also a character in the story) to defeat Zookd. If they fail, the consequences could be disastrous.”

How to Play the Game

As of the publishing of this article, the researchers haven’t fully revealed all the details of the story. However, Pescetelli hinted on his social media accounts that gamers will be controlling a trained actor. They will also not disclose the location and identity of the actor. The game will last for approximately two hours, but its duration would still depend significantly on the player.

There will also be limitations to the commands players can issue to the actor. Pescetelli said that they have prohibited commands that are against the law or will jeopardize the safety, privacy, and the image of the actor. They have allowed everything else.

Screenshot from MIT Media Lab's reality augmented game BeeMe site
Screenshot from MIT Media Lab’s BeeMe site

Players will be able to control the actor by writing and submitting custom commands and by voting up or down the commands. With voting, the command with the most vote will be the one the actor has to do.

“Many people have played an augmented reality game, but BeeMe is reality augmented. In BeeMe an agent gives up their free will to save humanity — or perhaps to know whether humanity can be saved at all. This brave individual will agree to let the Internet pilot their every action,” Pescetelli went on to say.

The team made the BeeMee project public last May through Twitter and reportedly cost less than $10,000 USD to develop.

Do you think games like these could lead to future ethical issues? 

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