AIM: No friends required

— 12:35 AM on August 31, 2000

Here's a story at that cracked me up. A student at Berkeley installed AOL Instant Messenger on his computer, then installed a simple AI program called Eliza. So far, 31 people have chatted with Eliza, apparently unaware that she's a computer program.

The article has a sample phrase that Eliza has used, which is just hilarious: "why do you tell me you were huh me nuts you gave her all the room she wanted never told nhewre what to do or where to go now?" The irony is, people keep talking to the program because it reacts to words like "goodbye" with more nonsensical questions. Apparently people are too polite to just close the window.

The student makes an interesting observation about those who get into conversations with the machine: "Their minds are set to try and make sense of anything … to try to interpret anything as communication." An interesting point, and one that reminded me of more instant messaging fun. Pop on over to Something Awful's ICQ Pranks and take a look at some of the chaos Lowtax has wrought.

If you read the archives, you'll find many cases where he spouts off a reply that makes no sense whatsoever, yet people will either ask him over and over what he means, or pretend to understand. Psychoanalysis aside, the ICQ pranks are frickin' hilarious. Highly recommended.

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