Skip to comments.AOL's Instant Message Robot a Bush Basher
Posted on 07/15/2004 5:23:02 AM PDT by kattracks
(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.
I think the child learned a valuable lesson.
I am shocked, shocked I say, to find this out!
In other words, AOL is giving Kerry free advertising, which is an in-kind contribution to the Kerry Kampaign.
Some AOL member should file an FEC complaint.
Apparently "smarter child" is as dumb as the Democrat candidate himself, hahahahaha! This little girl should ask the robot what he thinks sKerry's position is on the war, whether or not he was a member of a group that planned to assassinate several Senators in the 1970's, and whether he actually got an annulment from his first wife while she was "suicidal" before marrying his second, richer wife, and see if the robot's circuits explode!
Poor Democrats! If they have to keep telling everybody how smart they are, they must not have anything to prove it (and they don't)!
President Bush ROCKS!
Great job by that smart kid. And this company is totally BUSTED! HAHA!
Someone at AOL must be sorely disappointed, because, despite their efforts, every poll they have had on their front page recently having to do with the election has come out in favor of President Bush.
AOL has always been part of the liberal Clinton worshippers who value Democrat party leaders and the Democrat party.
And when Erin asked Smarter Child if he would like to enjoy some hot action with a minor child he replied, "Sure, kid. Meet me at Burger King tomorrow evening at seven. And whatever you do, don't tell your parents!"
If this is still being used within 60 days of Nov 2, isn't it a violation of that foolish campaing finance reform law?
Why do they risk losing at least half of their business?
I think it's a violation now. Corporate political contributions or expenditures are *verboten* under campaign finance laws: http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/2/441b.html
Neither AOL nor Conversagent is a 527.
Yes, the first law of programming: GIGO
Am I the only one wondering why people are conversing with a piece of software in the first place?
Smarter Child and oxymoron of the Public School System
Kinda like John Kerry -officer and a gentleman
You should be concerned. This is another manifestation of the pervasive liberal bias in educating children. One of the greatest weakness of conservatives has been to allow the takeover of public education by liberals and socialists. Children are taught values and behavior that the parents have no awareness of and may not sanction if they had an effective voice.
Shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that Kerry's supporters are all robots.
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