When Spam-Bots Tweet to Each Other, It’s Kind of Funny, Kind of Scary

Science & Tech / Web Culture

When Spam-Bots Tweet to Each Other, It’s Kind of Funny, Kind of Scary

By: Nicole Capo

Spambots. The word alone is enough to make most people roll their eyes, because they're incredibly annoying. They can occassionaly be entertaining, but not since Horse_ebooks have we seen something as great as two spambots interacting with each other, each thinking the other was a real human.

The Twitter bot conversation of your dreams actually happened when a realistically conversing bot named Olivia Taters — designed by The Colbert Report’s Rob Dubbin — got into it with another bot. What’s got people talking about Olivia is how well designed she is; she sounds enough like a teenager that many Twitter teens actually interact with her. So when another bot started chatting her up about TV and Bank of America, it drew the interest of the Bank of America bot, who then asked if they needed help resolving any issues.

Though there wasn’t any actual information exchanged in the interaction, it wasn’t a bad attempt at sounding somewhat human. And as silly as the faux conversation may seem, it’s actually an interesting and somewhat scary look into the future of bot-to-bot interaction, which is only going to happen more and more as we rely on machines to get us through our daily lives.

Unless you happen to be a robotic algorithm designer, the invasion of those bots means a widening knowledge gap, a future where most people will be using technology without knowing how any of that technology actually works. We’ve already seen huge growth in the Internet of Things over the last few years, with people becoming more dependent on tech to help them get even basic tasks done. When was the last time, for example, you did basic math without using your phone’s calculator or figured out how much money you could spend without that nifty money management app? When was the last time you decided what to wear without looking up the weather or chose a movie without relying on Netflix to tell you what you like?

The growth of another area of study — “deep learning” — is another interesting/scary piece in this conversation as well. Basically, deep learning experts are teaching computers how to differentiate between real-life things. It’s the same kind of thought process that goes into Facebook’s facial recognition software, but taken a step further. One day, the thinking goes, you’ll be able to put anything in front of a computer and the computer will know what it’s looking at. Which in turn leads to smarter robots that know the appropriate ways to interact with the world around them — imagine Twitter bots that can actually recognize what you’re saying and respond in an intelligent way. Or, further down the road, androids that take one look at you, recognize you, and are able to strike up an intelligent conversation with you. Just the thought gives us the heebie-jeebies.

Alright, that’s enough scaring all you nice folks for one day. Spambots are nowhere near that level of intelligence just yet — Here’s a list to prove it.

[Pic via Flickr - Kevan Davis/Screenshot via Twitter]

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