"Walden Three" aka "The Skinner Box"

based on the futuristic novel "Walden Two" by B.F. Skinner, wikipedia:B. F. Skinner I fantasized about test or better a device, to learn or indoctrinate "positive behavior". This test or device could could be used o find out if certain people are able to function in certain environments, like utopian communities, but also, more practical, in environments where outmost respect, self-recognition and pro-social behavior is a must, such as space stations, islands, bunkers or similar heterotopic environments wikipedia:Heterotopia_(space). Although it was clear, that the outcome was somewhat questionable or even fascist, as it denies free will and forces anyone to a certain mindset and behavior, I started my research and quickly was drawn to the "Skinner Box" wikipedia:Operant conditioning chamber, named after the very same B.F. Skinner. The idea is here, to stimulate or punish certain actions, to "learn" the subject to do the "right" action.

While the original Skinner Box uses rats and punishes them with a electric shock or endowed the right behavior with food, my Skinner Box for humans had to be more advanced and versatile to "teach" the positive behavior I had in my mind for my imaginary "Walden Three" Community. I started with simple old mac mini and a monitor as a base for a "device" that could ask questions via the monitor and would allow the participants to answer via the keyboard. The "element of punishment" was in my case a stroboscope, directly facing towards the face of the participant and flashing shortly but strong when a question was answered in the "wrong way". Although I was thinking in the beginning of "rewarding" the right answers, I skipped working on it, as my aim was to bring people to the point where they just answer all questions "right", trying to avoid any punishment and, hopefully, reflect their opinions and answers – hopefully to a better outcome and more pro-social behavior.

To get the whole thing running, i decided to code in JSON[[JSON|JavaScript Object Notation]] Format wikipedia:JSON a question catalogue, with 2 different possible answers (Yes/No). To make it not too easy to answer, neither "yes" nor "no" is always the "right" answer. This was done by setting so called "categories" in JSON[[JSON|JavaScript Object Notation]] Format on the questions, meaning that half of the questions had to be answered "yes" and the other half with "no", just to avoid being punished. If the "wrong" answer was chosen, a signal was going to the stroboscope to flash the participant. But this was a much longer way than I expected. Not only was it my first time to ever program something in JSON[[JSON|JavaScript Object Notation]] Format, also the way to connect a computer with a "chip-free" machine like a stroboscope was much more difficult than I expected. The first misery was the fact that my chosen way of hooking up both devices via DMX[[DMX|Digital MultipleX]] is a lighting control protocol standard using XLR cables and a DMX[[DMX|Digital MultipleX]] is a lighting control protocol standard using XLR cables/USB Interface by Enttec [1] was quickly interrupted by the fact that DMX[[DMX|Digital MultipleX]] is a lighting control protocol standard using XLR cables has two different Pin Standards (3 vs. 5) making it impossible to plug it in the relays I borrowed for my machine.. File:2013-07-10 23.54.11.jpg Fortunately the StuKoStudierenden Konvent (some other Universities call this Sudentenrat) was able to help me out with an adapter, but it still didn't worked.. Even after trying a bunch of original software and driver packages by the producer Enttec and troubleshooting with the help of the internet and its vast collection of forums, it was impossible to get the USB port speaking with the relays to fire the stroboscope. To get things running, I followed a hint and tried to hook everything up via Arduino device File:2013-07-11 00.28.21.jpg , which I fortunately knew from former courses. The advantages were simple but direct, the communication via the USB port was error-free and through the electric nodes on the Arduino Device it was easy to directly switch a different relays, which directly switched on the stroboscope File:2013-07-11 02.55.15.jpg.

After setting up my installation in the presentation room, I noticed that a lot of participants had fun with the fact that the questions got read out loud by the computer voice "Anna", and say "Gut!" or "Böse!" was apparently, unintentionally funny! However, the feedback I received from people who answered all questions was rather good, although many people liked to be "bad" with intention or tried to fool the system and answer everything correct, just by thinking which the "right" answer could be. But in this last case, i'm happy and actually successful, because it motivated people to reflect their choices in everyday situations!