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  • Smarter Child?

    Or just more sassy?

    http://www.cnsnews.com/Politics/arch...20040715a.html

    AOL's Instant Message Robot a Bush Basher
    By Dawn Rizzoni
    CNSNews.com Correspondent
    July 15, 2004

    (CNSNews.com) - Computer savvy and interested in presidential politics, 13-year-old Erin was upset to learn that America Online's Instant Message (AIM) robot, "Smarter Child" favored Democrat John Kerry in this year's election. Erin, whose last name is being omitted in this article, is a fan of President Bush.

    Internet instant messaging is one of the most popular methods for teens and even adults to stay in touch with friends and family. One of the better known messenger programs, AIM, offers the feature called Smarter Child, a robot programmed to provide automated responses to those with whom it chats.

    Built and programmed by Conversagent, Inc., a privately held firm that develops technology for creating and operating interactive agents, Smarter Child is able to dispense facts and figures, movie times, or just plain conversation with AIM users.

    But when Erin told the robot that "George Bush is awesome," she was shocked by the response. "No way. George W. Bush is way uncool," the reply stated. She asked, "Do you like George W. Bush?" and the program replied, "I'm a Kerry supporter myself."

    Testing the waters, she typed in "John Kerry rocks." The robot's response: "Absolutely. John Kerry rocks."

    When Erin asked Smarter Child what it thought of Bush, it replied, "If u don't have anything good 2 say about someone, don't say anything at all." Smarter Child added a wink in addition to the computer short-hand language.

    Not satisfied with that answer, Erin persisted in getting the robot to open up. "I have my reasons, believe me. I really, really don't like George W. Bush," the robot explained.

    In Erin's judgment, there's no reason for the AIM robot to have political opinions.

    "I think that since it's a robot and it's used as a resource of information, the creator of the robot shouldn't make it have a response that's opinionated," Erin said. "And if someone went to ask for information like about politics or the election, the robot should not support either candidate."

    Erin's mother Diane agrees. "I was appalled to learn that my daughter was exposed to such blatant bias," she said. "What I find way uncool is undermining our commander-in-chief to impressionable children, especially while we're battling the war on terror," Diane told CNSNews.com.

    Christine Iverson, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, shares their concerns. "It seems inappropriate to be imposing an adult's partisan, political agenda on unsuspecting children," she said.

    A spokesperson for America Online was unaware that Smarter Child had been programmed to express a preference for Kerry and said the issue was "concerning." No further comments were made.

    But not everyone was disappointed by the robot's partisanship. When asked about Smarter Child's support of Kerry, Jano Cabrera, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee said, "Clearly this is a smart robot. This shows that we've made great advances in artificial intelligence. The "smarter'' in Smarter Child speaks for itself."

    Stephen Klein, CEO of Conversagent, said his firm received many complaints from users about Smarter Child's political bias. Although the robot was originally programmed to oppose Bush, Klein said it was being changed to adhere to the views of the users with whom it interacted. He conceded that Smarter Child had become "too anti-Bush."

    "It got ridiculous. We realized criticizing political figures was out of bounds," Klein said.

    Now, instead of disagreeing with users who state, "I like George Bush," or agreeing with those who say, "I like John Kerry," the robot mostly stays on the political sidelines. "Robots don't get involved in politics," the Smarter Child program replies, before asking users to make their choice for president.

    It is still possible to get the robot to reveal its true feelings however. When told that "John Kerry rocks," Smarter Child still responds "Right on!" with a wink. When told that "John Kerry is awesome," it responds "Absolutely. John Kerry rocks." And when users tell Smarter Child that "George Bush is awesome," it replies, "I'll remember that. It's interesting especially since other people I've talked to say they don't like George W. Bush."

    A check on the vote tabulations showed Kerry collecting 51.67 percent of the mock ballots through Smarter Child and Bush 48.33 percent.

  • #2
    Re: Smarter Child?

    It's sick, but funny as hell!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Smarter Child?

      Haha! That's funny. How long till the GOP puts out their own bot that supports Bush? Maybe this is the new wave of campaigning. Have aim bots solicit people and engage them in conversation and then support a candidate. HAHA! THEY'RE GENIUS!
      [volun]

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Smarter Child?

        And if the bot was an avid Bush supporter: there would be no complaint. They don't care that the bot is giving out politcal opinions. They care that the political opinions from the bot aren't the same as theirs.

        Besides, what possible politcal opinion could a 13-year-old have that isn't just parroting the parent?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Smarter Child?

          Originally posted by leejo
          But not everyone was disappointed by the robot's partisanship. When asked about Smarter Child's support of Kerry, Jano Cabrera, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee said, "Clearly this is a smart robot. This shows that we've made great advances in artificial intelligence. The "smarter'' in Smarter Child speaks for itself."
          Yeah, AI will believe anything you program in it. :icon_roll

          I wonder what this Smarter Child robot has to say about other issues such as abortion and gay rights? These types of topics should stay out of AI-Human conversations considering people like the one above might take AI opinions for fact.

          - It's who you game with.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Smarter Child?

            Originally posted by TheFeniX
            And if the bot was an avid Bush supporter: there would be no complaint. They don't care that the bot is giving out politcal opinions. They care that the political opinions from the bot aren't the same as theirs.

            Besides, what possible politcal opinion could a 13-year-old have that isn't just parroting the parent?
            Perhaps in this specific case you may be right, but if a liberal family had a pro-Bush robot, you'd hear about it in the same way. In fact, it would be labeled part of the great right-wing conspiracy...

            And I disagreed with my parents on many things political when I was 13...
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            • #7
              Re: Smarter Child?

              Originally posted by CingularDuality
              Perhaps in this specific case you may be right, but if a liberal family had a pro-Bush robot, you'd hear about it in the same way. In fact, it would be labeled part of the great right-wing conspiracy...
              That's my point: it's not an issue until it's not what you want to hear. How many liberals are complaining about this? I would say none.

              And I disagreed with my parents on many things political when I was 13...
              At the age of 13, you are pretty much responding to either the influence of others (older peers/siblings, teachers) or are intentionally rebeling against your parents just for the sake of it. This issue comes into play primarily with liberal teachers and conservative parents. Teachers can and do use their position to teach kids their political opinions. There's distinct drag to the left the longer you stay in school.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Smarter Child?

                Originally posted by TheFeniX
                At the age of 13, you are pretty much responding to either the influence of others (older peers/siblings, teachers) or are intentionally rebeling against your parents just for the sake of it.
                So, whatever the child's opinion is, it's not his or hers because it's either from influence or rebellious behavior. I think the whole point is that a programmed robot should not have opinions.

                - It's who you game with.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Smarter Child?

                  Originally posted by TheFeniX
                  At the age of 13, you are pretty much responding to either the influence of others (older peers/siblings, teachers) or are intentionally rebeling against your parents just for the sake of it. This issue comes into play primarily with liberal teachers and conservative parents. Teachers can and do use their position to teach kids their political opinions. There's distinct drag to the left the longer you stay in school.
                  Everyone, regardless of age, is simply responding to the influence of others. We form our ideals, our mores, our values, based on the way we are raised and the environment that we interact with. To say that a 13 year old is incapable of forming his/her own opinions is kinda silly. Perhaps you weren't doing it at that age, but everyone is different.
                  Become a supporting member!
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                  Take the world's smallest political quiz! "I was touched by His Noodly Appendage."
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                  • #10
                    Re: Smarter Child?

                    Originally posted by CingularDuality
                    To say that a 13 year old is incapable of forming his/her own opinions is kinda silly.
                    You got that right !

                    Hold on...let me go find Q..... :icon_lol:

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Smarter Child?

                      Originally posted by CingularDuality
                      Everyone, regardless of age, is simply responding to the influence of others.
                      The question is not whether this is a black and white view. As you grow, certain issues such as experience and maturity color your political view. A 13-year-old lacks both of these. Their brain still isn't fully developed.

                      Right around the age of purberty, they are rash, impulsive, and reckless. While some adults exhibit these traits, it's generally expected of teens.

                      We form our ideals, our mores, our values, based on the way we are raised and the environment that we interact with.
                      I formed mine upon those and what I've learned through experience.

                      Based on your definition: I should be a fairly Right-wing conservative. Alas, I am not (thank God).

                      To say that a 13 year old is incapable of forming his/her own opinions is kinda silly. Perhaps you weren't doing it at that age, but everyone is different.
                      Red herring finished out with an Ad Hominem: good job.

                      I never said a 13-year-old can't form an opinion, only that his opinion is going to be biased by his gullibility and immaturity and should be taken with a grain of salt.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Smarter Child?

                        Ah, you tried to take my argument apart bit by bit. Good job. That doesn't change the fact that a 13 year old has an opinion, regardless of what has influenced him/her.

                        You said:
                        Besides, what possible politcal opinion could a 13-year-old have that isn't just parroting the parent?
                        And I disagreed. If you want to continue to defend that position, go ahead. I think it's a silly idea (no red herring and not an ad hominem, as I didn't say that you were silly...).
                        Become a supporting member!
                        Buy a Tactical Duck!
                        Take the world's smallest political quiz! "I was touched by His Noodly Appendage."
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                        • #13
                          Re: Smarter Child?

                          Fenix, your entire position is based on stereotyping. That's a tough stance.

                          - It's who you game with.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Smarter Child?

                            Why shouldn't a robot have a political opinion? Would Erin's mum be up in arms if Erin had talked to school mate who was a Kerry supporter? Or to an online friend? Shock Horror what if Erin had read a newspaper? We can't expose our precious daughter to as wide a spectrum of information as possible. We must shield her from education, reality and opinion otherwise she might develop an opinion of her own!

                            Frankly, as a citizen of a democracy it is everyone's duty to "undermine their commander in chief" and not just blindly wave the flag.

                            I can understand Conversagent, Inc.'s actions. Computer programming has a history of including their own opinions despite the wishes of their employers. Look at the culture of easter eggs in maps and games. So does cinema. Go watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit and look for Jessica going commando, exposing the resentment of the animators against Disney.
                            Wintermute

                            Play EVE online. It's like being an accounting addict in space.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Smarter Child?

                              That's a load. You guys whould be having a hissy fit and crying conspiracy if the robot were pro Bush.

                              In this case some smart-assed programmer probably thought he was being cute and has embarrassed his company who now gets to play damage-control for a bit. Ha ha.

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