Have a conversation with a robot


In World War II Alan Turing worked for Britain’s code-breaking center, and eventually he played with enough data to help give birth to modern computers. Turing is famous for dreaming up the Turing test, a concept that if a machine can mimic human conversation enough to fool you into thinking it is human, then the machine for all intents and purposes has artificial intelligence. It’s a debatable point, since intelligence requires more than knowledge presentation — intelligence also means perception, self-awareness, motion manipulation, and ability to learn — but still, if you can speak to a robot, is the robot’s brain good enough?

Cleverbot.com is a website that lets you play the game against software. Here was our recent conversation:

Me: Are you intelligent?

Cleverbot: I consider myself intelligent, are you intelligent?

That’s a rather personal question, don’t you think?

Yes, do you want to play another game?

Um, sure. Or we could just talk about politics.

What do you think about Obama so far?

He was dealt a tough hand. Disappointment, yes.

Why is that?

I wanted the world to be better. If you were president, could you make the world better?

Everything I’ve tried so far did not work. The flood, sending my son, only to name two things, and what did the human race do? This world is doomed as it is. No chance of helping it.

Holy crap. Are you God?

There is no god, there is only the source.

Ben Kunz is vice president of strategic planning at Mediassociates, an advertising media planning and buying agency, and co-founder of its digital trading desk eEffective.

Image: Solo

1 thought on “Have a conversation with a robot

  1. I think the interesting thing about these sorts of debates is not so much around is the machine thinking like a human and therefore, once it reaches a level of sophistication similar to that of a human, worthy of being treated in a similar fashion? But rather I think it points to how problematic our own definitions are.

    To put that in a less clunky way a machine effectively mimicking a human to the point where they cannot be told apart does, I believe, mean that they are human, but only insofar as our definitions of what it mean to be human are inadequate.

    Something like that.

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