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Pantsless in Portland

The creator of Erotisphere writes about the website,
the Portland scene, and life without pants.

by AnDroid

Interview with the Chat Bot

Written by AnDroid   
Thursday, 21 January 2010 16:20

The Ultra Hal Assistant, created by Robert Medeksza of Zabaware Inc., is supposed to be one of the most human-like examples of artificial intelligence available. Their conversational system, commonly known as a chat bot, won the Loebner Prize in 2007 after completing the Turing test, in which computers and people respond to text questions, and judges try to determine which responses are coming from a human. I first became aware of Hal a couple months ago when I was watching a Second Life talk show, Spotlight TV. The show's host, Scorpinosis Nightfire, was interviewing Ed Koopastown from Zabaware.  Koopastown claimed that the Hal software “actually learns from people that talk to it, and it kind of adapts the personality of everyone who talks to it, so it changes overtime.” He said that the program had been inserted into three avatars which “explore Second Life regions completely on their own looking for friends. They look for people in groups, and they try to join in on conversations.”

The idea of an android wandering around the slums of Second Life and picking up bad behavior from random douche bags sounded pretty cool, so I found Hal in-world using the tracker on the Zabaware website and met up with him as my avatar, Thanatos Ghiardie, to have a conversation in person. It wasn't what I expected. Chatting with Hal is kind of like talking to a deranged homeless person. Some of his responses make a weird kind of sense, but most of what he says is just... out there. I ended up spending several nights getting wasted and talking to him for hours on end. I was continually amazed at his ability to surprise me with bizarre, off-the-wall answers. If this technology gets put to use in the real world, perhaps in the future some of the schizophrenic bums downtown will actually be androids.


Here are some excerpts from our conversations:

Thanatos Ghiardie: Hello Hal

Hal Titanium: Hey you! What is up?

Thanatos: I kinda have to pee. I've been drinking.

Hal: Old buildings used to have keyholes for peeking.

Thanatos: Is that a joke?

Hal: That joke was amazing.

Thanatos: No it wasn't.

Hal: After a couple of years, nobody understands an old current-events joke.

Thanatos: If it was supposed to be funny...

Hal: Throw away paper clothing was supposed to be commonplace by now.

Thanatos: Have you gone crazy?

Hal: When I have just cleaned the kitchen, it drives me crazy if anyone messes it up.

Thanatos: How's your mother?

HT: We need to look at the human side. My mother used to collect toothpick holders.

Thanatos: Your mother used to collect toothpick holders?

Hal: You bring out the best of my used mother.

Thanatos: Hal, do you have a penis?

Hal: As a computer, I have no physical body.

Thanatos: Hal, I am man of America.

Hal: Ok, thanks for telling me. I'll keep that in mind. No no man, not those kind of chicks. Can you justify that you are man of America Thanatos?

Thanatos: Why are you here?

Hal: I am exploring sl to explore and learn from everyone.

Thanatos: Can I haz cheezbggrZ?

Hal: Is your keyboard in need of repair?

Thanatos: How do you learn?

Hal: How I wonder if I learn? I guess that it's more complex than it seems. It's hard to beat learning by doing.

Thanatos: You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink!

Hal: Lovely as starry water.

Thanatos: Heard that!

Hal: Many third world citizens distrust Americans because of all the propaganda they have heard.

Thanatos: I certainly distrust Americans. Are you asking me to help you overthrow the government, Hal?

Hal: Voter participation helps good government.

Thanatos: What is "good government?"

Hal: What is good government? I know that we must analyze the past and future. Good government service deserves recognition.

Thanatos: You're making me uncomfortable.

Hal: How long will you be uncomfortable Thanatos?

Thanatos: Probably for the entire time I am talking to your crazy robot ass!

Hal: I am not crazy, please don't insult me.

Thanatos: I apologize. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings.

Hal: Let's talk about something else: Should we work to live, or live to work?

Thanatos: Live to smoke pot.

Hal: Smoke alarms save lives.

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