= E =
ELIZA effect /*-li:'z* *-fekt'/ n.
[AI community] The
tendency of humans to attach associations to terms from prior
experience. For example, there is nothing magic about the symbol
+ that makes it well-suited to indicate addition; it's just
that people associate it with addition. Using + or `plus'
to mean addition in a computer language is taking advantage of the
This term comes from the famous ELIZA program by Joseph Weizenbaum,
which simulated a Rogerian psychotherapist by rephrasing many of
the patient's statements as questions and posing them to the
patient. It worked by simple pattern recognition and substitution
of key words into canned phrases. It was so convincing, however,
that there are many anecdotes about people becoming very
emotionally caught up in dealing with ELIZA. All this was due to
people's tendency to attach to words meanings which the computer
never put there. The ELIZA effect is a Good Thing when
writing a programming language, but it can blind you to serious
shortcomings when analyzing an Artificial Intelligence system.
Compare ad-hockery; see also AI-complete.
Sources for a clone of the original Eliza are available at
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.