Sunday, September 9, 2012

Social Neuroscience & Technology

As our textbook so clearly defines, social psychology has a fairly short history of study and thus only as of recent, there have been several designations that have been made around differences in social psychology and other like-minded studies. Social neuroscience, a study regarding social behavior in regards to brain function, has apparently become a fairly hot topic. I find myself encountering some new type of published material on the best-sellers table every time I enter a book store.

Brian Christian speaks to several doctors and scientists in his non-fiction book, The Most Human Human (, which primarily elaborates upon The Turing Test, a test that uses a panel of humans that interact with competing machines all in the run to be deemed the Most Human Machine. Contrarily, the Turing Test also includes a separate test where a panel of humans interacts with other humans who are competing to be deemed the Most Human Human. The test influences Christian to break down the criteria and questions that could determine humanity as a measurable quality. To do this in a comprehensible manner, he will often times use everyday human interactions and behavior to exemplify  the qualities being analyzed by the panel. For example, in explaining social patterns as a result of the alternate functions of the left and right brain hemispheres, he determines that the reason why people appear more desirable when seen in person walking across a bridge is that the right hemisphere is detecting environmental fear from being above water, but the left hemisphere is rationalizing this spike in heartbeat to be a reflection of something more probable, like interacting with a person you are attracted to.

Aside from his discussion of social neuroscience, there arises a debatable point to make. How can our interactions with technology benefit, skew, or change the way we look at how humans interact with each other? The Turing Test enables us to observe what humans look to first when determining whether or not they are interacting with people or with robots. For those unfamiliar with Cleverbot (, I recommend having a conversation with him/her/it, or taking a look at conversations other people have had.

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