The Null Device

sponsored chatroom "buddies"

The next wave in marketing is here: chatroom bots or "buddies" with virtual personalities, which befriend people, make conversation and gently encourage them to consume lifestyle products -- and potentially provide marketing analysts with a lot of customer-profile data in the form of conversations.
Most buddies are programmed with personalities that appeal to their target audiences. ELLEgirlBuddy, the Internet ego of teen magazine ELLEgirl, is a redheaded 16-year-old who likes kickboxing, the color periwinkle and French class. GooglyMinotaur, a buddy for the British progressive rock band Radiohead, affected a British demeanor with words like "mate." The Austin Powers buddy, which promotes the summer film "Goldmember," interjects the movie character's favorite phrases - "yeah, baby" and "grrr" - into conversation.

Perhaps surprisingly, thanks to improvements in natural-language technology and extensive customer databases, the bots give the illusion of being sentient. People know they're machines, but choose to suspend disbelief.

ActiveBuddy's bots save details about each user - names, birth dates, even instances when the person used offensive language. When the buddy recalls these facts, it could appear to the user that it is taking a genuine interest in him or her. "We're programmed to respond to certain signals as though in the presence of a life form," said MIT's Turkle. "These objects are pushing our buttons."

(via TechDirt)

There are 2 comments on "sponsored chatroom "buddies"":

Posted by: Andrew Thu Aug 1 06:53:21 2002

The article talks of people talking to the bot as if it's a person. They know it's a bot but they don't care. I remember doing that with a certain Sound Blaster text-to-speach program all those years ago. "Parity error....!"

How long before we have A.I. popstars that write music intended to appeal to the masses. People know the star is a "machine" but they don't care. Heck, some people even want to marry it. Oh wait.. damn.

See William Gibson's "Idoru".

Posted by: acb Thu Aug 1 07:42:07 2002

Or Greg Egan's "Worthless".

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