The short reason is that the issue of human/AI interaction will be a huge field in the future. Its a matter of when, not if, we reach the point where computers will be able to consistently mimic human behavior in such a way that one would never know that they are interacting with a machine.

Trust me. I know.

How, you ask? Well, I’ve been there and done that.

During my webcam research I got suckered by a bot. It was my fault really. Here’s the basics:

I had been spending a lot of time researching Yahoo Chat rooms. My goal at the time was to help build data to disprove a notion: webcam’s primary purpose was sex/cybersex. There is a folks notion that either:

only exhibitionists had webcams
webcams created exhibitionists

This seemed like a gross simplification. But thinking it wasn’t enough. I needed to prove it (I’ll publish the proof theory at a later date). And proof required research. So I headed to the field: YahooChat rooms. And that’s when I started to observe bots.

For the most part they were easy to pick out. Very basic discursive scripts.

Then it happened: I had been hoping to get an interview with a cam whore (sorry mom… Really it’s a performative genre/category of webcam user). And I thought I found one who was open to discussion. And I thought I negotiated a deal for an interview in return for joining her site for a day. So far so good. But it turned out the site was a scam. And when I went to ask her what the deal was, I realized to my horror I was talking to a bot1 2.

And that was that… I was hooked. And as I began to see large holes in my webcam direction, it became clear that I was barking up the wrong tree. So using an idea from the oblique strategies (which is another subject I’ll write on) I decide to kill my idea to save my thesis. And I moved on to bots.

1 – if you are interested in the entire painful experience, I’ve archived the entire thing. You can check it out here. IMPORTANT NOTE: As this interaction was held with a non-human participant, this does not need to comply with Institutional Review Board (IRB) procedure. As such the user name in this document does not need to be protected.

2 – I’ve got a theory in the works as to how I (and other like me were fooled). I’ll get that posted in a few days.