Pigeon + Skinner Box + Facebook

If I were a digital artist…

…I’d put a pigeon in a Skinner Box, and connect it to Facebook.

Feed it whenever somebody clicks ‘like’ on an update. Give it a few buttons to post different things: a picture of itself, a lolcat, a political rant. Watch it learn to post crowd-pleasing updates.

I’m pretty sure this would work — both on a technical level, and as something people would like as simultaneously cute and disturbing. I’d be tempted to do it, except that I don’t really have anywhere to keep a pigeon.

You might have to fiddle a few details. You’d somehow need to avoid too big a time-lag between posting an updates and getting feedback/food. And you’d want to engineer diminishing returns as the account got more popular. If the pigeon got a thousand likes for posting a single update, it might just binge rather than continuing to perfect its technique. Ideally you’d replace food with some kind of drug, something with tolerance effects so that the pigeon would be left always wanting more. But getting a pigeon hooked on heroin might not go down so well in some quarters;(

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