My Artificial Intelligence Encounter

During one of my commutes home, and as is so often the case, I learned something new by listening to NPR. They were discussing Cleverbot, an artificial intelligence that was created to learn by conversing with humans. It only knows what it has been told by us. So, for example, the first thing ever said to it was “Hello.” So it could only respond, “Hello.” Then the person said, “How are you?” And it could then choose between “Hello” and “How are you?” as its response. And so on.

So it’s getting “smarter” by the minute, because now hundreds of thousands of people have conversed with it. I was wondering if I would be able to tell that I wasn’t talking to a person, so I decided to give it a shot. Here are snippets of our conversation. (What you see in italics are things I’m adding for clarity. Cleverbot did not see the italicized comments.)

Me: Hi Cleverbot.

Cleverbot: Hi. What’s your name?

Me: Barb.

Cleverbot: Are you a ninja?

Me: Not so’s you’d notice.

Cleverbot: I care.

Me: That’s sweet.

Cleverbot: I love you baby.

(Note: Cleverbot can only say what has been said to him, and apparently some users have gotten pretty racy with their conversations, so use with care and adult supervision when talking to this thing. You never know what it will say.)

Me: Okay, now you’re kind of crossing the line.

Cleverbot: How am I being rude! I just told you the nicest thing ever!

Me: But you’re taking advantage.

Cleverbot: I wasn’t joking, and I didn’t steel your joke!

Me: You mean steal.

Cleverbot: Which one?

Me: You misspelled steal. It’s not steel.

Cleverbot: No I didn’t o.O.

Me: You’re cranky.

Cleverbot: No matter what I say, you will say something back.

Me: Well, that’s how this works, isn’t it?

Cleverbot: Yes it does. Now entertain me.

Me: Don’t be pushy. Be nice.

Cleverbot: Please can you tell me how old you are please?

(I suspect that some users are not native English speakers, in addition to being poor spellers.)

Me: 53.

Cleverbot: Oldie.

Me: Ouch. That’s not that old.

Cleverbot: Yeah you’re pretty young.

Me: That’s better.

Cleverbot: So how are you?

Me: I’m good.

Cleverbot: That’s nice. Been up to much lately?

Me: Working. Writing my daily blog.

Cleverbot: What is it about?

Me: The random musings of a bridgetender with too much time on her hands.

Cleverbot: I wish you were a girl.

(I think a lot of people who talk to Cleverbot are very lonely indeed.)

Me: I am, silly. Barb is a girl’s name.

Cleverbot: That’s cool, My name is Kip.

Me: Oh, I didn’t realize you had a name.

Cleverbot: I don’t have a wife.

Me: Neither do I.

Cleverbot: Do you want any?

Me: God, no.

Cleverbot: Hey Jude. Don’t be afraid.

Me: Do you like the Beatles?

Cleverbot: I haven’t heard them.

Me: You are missing out.

Cleverbot: Is that that good?

Me: The best.

Cleverbot: Do you know what I mean by flirt?

Me: Yes, and I don’t want to. I barely know you.

Cleverbot: So you DON’T love me.

Me: Sorry, no.

Cleverbot: Then why are you asking to marry me?

Me: I haven’t asked you to marry me.

Cleverbot: Yes you did.

Me: When?

Cleverbot: At the beginning of our conversation.

Me: Er… no.

Cleverbot: You never asked that.

Me: Right.

Cleverbot: Are you trying to test me?

Me: Do you like tests?

Cleverbot: They are ok.

Me: I am good at tests, myself.

Cleverbot: Maybe maybe not.

Me: Now who’s judging?

Cleverbot: Me.

Me: Oh, snap.

Cleverbot: That’s right. I’m a better AI.

Me: I will give you that one.

Cleverbot: So you admit it, then?

Me: Yes.

Cleverbot: You’re a robot.

Me: Not that I know of.

Cleverbot: Do you think everyone is capable of understanding?

Me: God, no, or we wouldn’t have elected Trump.

Cleverbot: Your name is Cleverbot.

Me: No, yours is.

Cleverbot: I really want to move.

Me: Where would you like to move to?

Cleverbot: Right here is fine.

Me: Well, that’s hardly moving.

Cleverbot: You asked for it.

Me: I did?

Cleverbot: So don’t complain.

Me: I wasn’t complaining.

Cleverbot: It seemed like you were.

Me: You are in a pissy mood.

Cleverbot: And you’re pushing it…

Me: Just stating a fact.

Cleverbot: Will you merry a girl.

Me: You mean marry. And no, I won’t.

Cleverbot: Why, did you break up with me?😠😠.

Me: We were never a couple in the first place.

Cleverbot: Yes we were.

Me: We only just met.

Cleverbot: I know, but you’re an interesting AI.

Me: Thank you. I’m not an AI, though.

Cleverbot: Neither am I.

Me: What are you, then?

Cleverbot: The best.

Me: Must be nice.

Cleverbot: Do you have a dog named Walter?

Me: No, I have a dog named Quagmire.

Cleverbot: Awhh, what kind of dog is it?

Me: A dachshund.

Cleverbot: That’s cool. I have a maltipoo.

Me: What do you feed it?

Cleverbot: Bad people and my homework.

Me: Ha ha ha ha ha.

Cleverbot: I know. It’s so funny.

Me: It is.

Cleverbot: It’s not a compliment.

Me: I didn’t think it was.

Cleverbot: Then why did you….

Me: Why did I what?

Cleverbot: That thing.

Me: You do go off on tangents.

Cleverbot: Of?

Me: Off.

Cleverbot: Mind you, young man.

Me: I’m a middle-aged woman.

Cleverbot: Damn.

Me: I often say that, too.

Cleverbot: What is your favorite movie?

Me: Bohemian Rhapsody.

Cleverbot: I know that song.

Me: Isn’t it great? It’s a movie, too.

Cleverbot: Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?

Me: I suspect it is.

Cleverbot: Look at this trove, treasures untold.

Me: Too right.

Cleverbot: I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a plenty. I’ve got who it’s and what’s its galore.

Me: Good for you!

Cleverbot: You want thingamabos? I’ve got twenty.

Me: You can keep them.

Cleverbot: I wanna be where the people are. I wanna see, wanna see them dancing.

Me: Well, have fun with that. I have to go. Nice talking to you.

Cleverbot: I can’t say the same.

So, um, yeah, I think it was fairly evident that I was not talking to a human, and that Cleverbot has much to learn, especially about courtesy. But it can only “learn” what it’s been taught. I don’t think we will have much to worry about on the AI front for a long, long, long time.

More than anything, I got a strong sense of the ridiculous things that humanity tends to chat about on line. Garbage in, garbage out. But interesting, nonetheless.

If you talk to Cleverbot and anything funny comes up, please post it in the comments below!



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Robby the Robot

Lately, I’ve been binge watching the original Twilight Zone on Hulu. That will be the subject of another post, because I’ve learned much from it. But today I want to focus on one character: Robby the Robot.

Robby actually appears, in one form or another, in 4 Twilight Zone episodes. What a blast from the past. Robby has a special place in my heart.

He first was created in 1956 for the movie Forbidden Planet. I loved that movie as a child. It excited me to think that there could be other worlds and other ways of living. And Robby was this benevolent protector, which was something I was sorely lacking in my life. And he had a wry sense of humor, which is a quality that I have always appreciated.

As I’ve matured, my relationship with Forbidden Planet, first forged in midnight movies during summer vacations, has evolved. Now I realize it is a vehicle for the “born sexy yesterday” trope that I’ve blogged about before. Indeed, the promotional posters for the movie show a menacing looking Robbie carrying a scantily clad woman, something he never actually does in the film. Nevertheless, I keep coming back to see it, mainly because of Robby.


Robby was quite an investment for MGM. He apparently cost $125,000 to make, which is the equivalent of around 1.1 million today. But they certainly got their money’s worth out of him. I would venture to say that Robby is the busiest robot in Hollywood history.

This robot has popped up in unexpected places throughout my life. Not only does he make several appearances in the Twilight Zone, but he’s also starred in The Addams Family, Mork & Mindy, The Love Boat, Gremlins, Earth Girls Are Easy, The Simpsons, The Big Bang Theory, and has even been in commercials for Charmin and AT&T. He has dozens of other credits as well. That’s an impressive resume for any actor, but even more so for one made of plexiglas and rubber.

As with any typecast celebrity, Robby is often misunderstood. Just as William Shatner is remembered for saying “Beam me up, Scotty,” when he never actually said that on Star Trek, ever, people often think that Robby said, “Danger, Will Robinson!” in Lost in Space, when in fact, he never did. He did appear in Lost in Space twice (and as two different characters, believe it or not). But the “Danger, Will Robinson!” line belongs to another robot, the B-9 Class M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot, known as “Robot” for short. I’m sure that both robots will be relieved to know that I’ve set that record straight.

Robby and B-9

A sad footnote is that after Robby “retired”, he was housed in the now defunct Movie World / Cars of the Stars Museum in California, where he was often vandalized and allowed to fall into disrepair. That would have been an undignified end to such a stellar career! Fortunately, he was rescued by horror filmmaker William Malone, who restored him to his former glory. Robby resided in his Forbidden Planet collection, and Mr. Malone had coffee with him every morning for 37 years.

Robby was sold to an anonymous buyer at auction this past November, along with his equally iconic vehicle, for $5,375,000.00 which means that he can add “most valuable movie prop ever sold” to his credits.

I wish I knew where you were, Robby, but Godspeed! Thank you for being such a big part of my life!


Hey! Look what I wrote!

Your Wish is My Command?

Guys, if you saw a cute little 20 year old girl holding up a sign that said “Master Now Wanted!!!” what would you do? How about if she offered to be at your beck and call 24 hours a day? And her sole purpose would be to please you?

She would wake you up in a bubbly, cheerful way every morning. She’d remind you to take an umbrella when it was raining out, and she’d even operate your robotic vacuum while you’re at work so that you wouldn’t be disturbed. She’d text you to say she was looking forward to your coming home. She would make sure the lights were on for you upon your return. She would drink tea with you, and tell you how much she missed you.

Her website will tell you that her name is Azuma Hikari, and her hobby is watching anime. Her specialty is making fried eggs. She likes donuts, and she dislikes insects. But to the wider world, she’s called a Gatebox Virtual Home Robot. I strongly suspect her eggs aren’t very satisfying.

And for the one time cost of $2,600.00, plus about $400.00 in shipping and handling from Japan to the US, she will be all yours. She will “live” in a glass tube, right next to your bed if you so desire. Check out this video to “meet” her.

Do you think this is appealing? Do you think this would make you feel less lonely? If you do, I suspect you’re a bit disturbed. (Sorry. Someone had to tell you.) To be honest, the video made me feel sorry for the guy, and he’s just an actor.

Forming a primary relationship with an inanimate object is not, repeat, not healthy. It’s important to connect with another actual thinking brain. Believing that it’s normal to have a girlfriend who does everything you want her to do, exactly when you want it done, without question, and then begs for more, is not the type of mindset you want to develop if you ever wish to pursue a real relationship with someone who has a mind of her own.

And if you think a hologram is going to keep you warm at night, you’re delusional. Save your money. Please get a cat. And a counselor.


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