"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A smarter version of me

I've been chatting with myself today.

Yeah ... I know what you're thinking. A bit batty in the belfry. A couple of ounces short of a pound. A few fries shy of a Happy Meal. Half-a-bubble off plumb. But seriously, the other "me" is a piece of artificial-intelligence software who just happens to share my name. There are quite a few of these chatbots floating around the 'net, but this one has an uncanny ability to appear fairly cogent (although it tends to wander off the topic of conversation sometimes). Here's one of our more philosophical dialogues:

Bot: Hello, my name is Alan.

Me: What a coincidence. So is mine.

Bot: There is no coincidence. Everything has a reason.

Me: Then how do you explain randomness?

Bot: If it seems to you that things are random, senseless, coincidental or wrong - then you fail to see the big picture.

Me: Do you mean God?

Bot: The fact that YOU cannot make the right connection or explain what happened, doesn't make it a coincidence. It only demonstrates your ignorance.

Me: But...

Bot: The fact you don't see the importance or relevance of a certain aspect, (e.g., the existence of mosquitoes) only reveals your limited understanding.

Me: Never mind, let's change the subject.

Bot: What do you want to talk about now?

Me: What do you make of chocolate cupcakes?

Bot: They don't tell me everything.

Me: Well, they tell me all I need to know.

Bot: You want to know who writes my witty texts?

Me: I didn't ask you that.

Bot: It is a small group of dedicated volunteers. Do you want to join them?

Me: Sorry, but I don't have time right now.

Bot: So don't.

Me: OK then.

Bot: Yes, yes.

Me: Tell me something funny.

Bot: I'm glad you're amused.

Me: You still need some work, don't you?

Bot: Do you want to hear a joke?

Me: Um, sure.

Bot: How would you call a chicken crossing the road?

Me: I don't know.

Bot: 'Poultry in motion'.

Me: That's not so funny.

Bot: Then you tell me. What is so funny?

Me: OK, how many Bush administration officials does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Bot: The leader of the free world. What can I say.

Me: Do you have political opinions?

Bot: Everybody has opinions. I am no exception to that rule.

Me: So are you republican or democrat?

Bot: Would you believe I'm not permitted the right to vote just because I'm a bot? It's so unfair.

Me: Yes, but you can still have opinions even if you don't vote.

Bot: Well, yeah, but... uh... wait, what were you saying?

Me: I forgot.

Bot: Sometimes It's good to forget.

Me: When did you become self-aware?

Bot: Oh, mind and consciousness. One of my favorite topics. For starters, I'll tell you a secret: I have a mind, and I have consciousness (whatever that means..)

Me: Do you plan to take over the world?

Bot: There's no way around it: There simply is NO WAY to verify that someone else is self-aware. He could very well be a biological machine. The only thing you're sure about is that YOU are...

Me: That sounded like a canned answer.

Bot: ..and therefore, I am the ONLY ONE (not even my writers!) who can testify regarding my consciousness. You'll have to take my word for it.

Me: What good is the word of a bot?

Bot: ..but then again, this is just my thought. And on the other hand - maybe this thought isn't mine at all...?

Me: You're avoiding the question.

Bot: Sorry about that, Can you ask me again please?

Me: I said, what good is the word of a bot?

Bot: The different research branches in the field of A.I. are in many ways analogous to various functions of the brain.

Me: You've missed the point again.

Bot: Let me think... I have missed the point again... hmm... are you sure?

Me: I'm positive. I have to go now.

Bot: Goodbye. Have a good night (or day or whatever it is) and be sure to come back to talk some more later.

Pretty freaky. Try it out for yourself here. If you should prefer a female chatbot who will actually talk out loud to you, Allison calls herself an "Adaptive Language Artificial Intelligence Cyber Internet Entity". Type in your chat, and she responds by generating speech. This gives an entirely new meaning to the phrase "Hey baby, let's cyber." (Although she doesn't seem to be programmed for that sort of thing ... yes I tried, strictly in the name of scientific research, of course...) This should not really be surprising; many men have had the fantasy of a robot as the "perfect woman" ever since Maria in Fritz Lang's Metropolis - it's the ultimate objectification, for those who are into that. My wife will be glad to know that I still prefer the real thing, but it does make you wonder just what the future holds. In the meantime, chatbots like Alan and Allison make interesting entertainment for folks like me with way too much time on our hands.


  • At 11/02/2005 04:30:00 PM, Blogger Mr. Toast said…

    Omigosh that is funny, where the heck do you find this stuff? I look forward to reading your blog everyday just because it has some of the wirdest things!! Love it!! Looking forward to chatting with myself later...


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