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Self-Diagnosing Systems. Standardized tests as self-replicating system.

Taking common multiple choice tests from the fields of educational achievement and psychological diagnosis, this project explores the forms of those tests and the psychology of human viewers/participants. I envision this as a reciprocal investigation: elucidating the formal structure, descriptive limitations, and values embedded in a variety of testing metrics (including psychological inventories, diagnostic tools, intelligence tests, and scholastic aptitude / achievement tests) while also engaging the viewer/user in some reflexive consideration of their own psychology in relation to that test. To the extent that assessment tests are used in determining future outcomes for individuals I think they merit further critical analysis.

The central interactive model for this project is the idea of the user administering tests to the computer--an exchange suggesting the need to diagnose the computer (and through it, the test) to discover its underlying pathology, and prompting the viewer to form some sense of the parameters and limitations of testing tools. Multiple-choice tests are closed systems with finite possible outcomes and descriptive states--and as such they are already essentailly "machines" for producing diagnoses, and thus are ripe for interface and exploitation by statistical or learning machines. Computer vision (CV) and statistical machine learning technologies are the means to orchestrate this encounter between the viewer and the test and facilitate the ongoing interaction between the two.

Open Questions To Be Addressed

  • technical possibilities:
    • optical character recognition / computer vision interface. (natural interface)
    • optical mark reader (Scantron!)
  • open / closed system?
    • automated response / grading.
    • are the results and the test stored in the same system? If so, that seems like a bit of a foregone conclusion.
    • what does the user/viewer contribute? explore their own responses to questions while simultaneously learning the test, driving the computer
  • engaging external circuits of meaning:
    • sending tests into testing services.
    • taking the SAT. (funny the idea of verified identity, not possible to have a computer take the test)
    • hiring a therapist.
    • getting an official diagnosis.
  • exploring tests as cultural artifacts -- (for instance the 599 question MMPI)
    • implicit values
  • physical form.
    • getting it off of the screen!
  • other modalities of response:
    • sound
    • lights
    • motion
    • achievement certificates


Initial Phase

To clarify in the first two weeks:

  • Approach essential conceptual concerns through research and practical experimentation.
    • closed/open systems?
    • Emergent behavior--does the system evolve towards something? Is it goal-driven? If so, what are the goals.
    • Alternately, is the system simply playing out closed possibilities. (Every Icon).
    • Documentary/learning behavior--does it record some trace of the viewer's/user's actions? Do they shape the emerging personality?
  • Existing literature on standardized testing
    • critical analysis / critique of existing tests
    • anti-test advocates?
    • complaints about specific tests?
    • uses of tests. probably a main difference here between psychological assessment and educational testig.

Software Development

Physical Development

  • shelled webcams (removed from their original packaging and mounted differently).
  • eye-on-an-arm? (see BLADE RUNNER below)
  • flash cards.
  • scantron machine!



Final week


Week 2


Book Review of Jensen on Intelligence-g-Factor -n Selmer Bringsjord The Minds & Machines Laboratory Dept. Philosophy, Psychology & Cognitive Science Department of Computer Science Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Troy NY 12180 USA

  • Raven Progressive Matrices
  • What One Intelligence Test Measures: A Theoretical Account of the Processing in the Raven Progressive Matrices Test. 1990. [1]
  • The Pierley/Redford Dissociative Affect Diagnostic -

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5


  • The Multidimensional Romantic Perfectionism Questionnaire by Dr. William E. Snell, Jr. [3]
  • Depression Screening Test by Ivan Goldberg, M.D. [4]
  • Jung Typology Test. [5]

Week 6

  • Multiple Choice Tests
  • hardware:

Optical mark reader.jpg

Week 7

Week 8

What does it mean?



Casting the computer as my dog:

Affective Computing Toolkits





Dissociative Identity DIsorder



  • Autopoesis, autpoetic systems. second-order cybernetics. Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela.
  • Kelly Dobson. Blendie. Machine Therapy. attachments between people and machines.
  • Helicopter parents.
    • parenting warez.
    • The Parent Bay (TPB).
    • hacking child outcomes.
    • IQ tests, scholastic achievements
  • Voigt-Kampf Empathy Test. (Blade Runner):


  • Tests:
    • Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory.
    • Beck Depression Inventory.
    • Beck Hopelessness Scale.
    • Weschsler Adult Intelligence Scale-revised. (WAIS R)
    • Weschsler Intelligence Scale for Children-revised. (WISC R)
  • Tests in the News:
    • SAT question on Jersey Shore/Snooki.
    • Tiger Mother.
  • Marvin the Paranoid Android. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. [6].
Now the world has gone to bed
Darkness won't engulf my head
I can see by infra-red
How I hate the night
Now I lay me down to sleep
Try to count electric sheep
Sweet dream wishes you can keep
How I hate the night


  • default com options for computer <-> es2010 communication in CoolTerm.

Es2010 scantron default com.png