Bots: The Origin of New Species / Edition 1 available in Hardcover
- Pub. Date:
- Wired Books, Incorporated
In telling the tale of the development of software robots, Andrew Leonard constructs a playful, fascinating, anecdote-rich history of the Internet, tracking it from the free-form ASCII-text playground of chipheads, researchers, and scientists to the sprawling, advertising-laden, cultural entity it has become. In an expert and entertaining book, Leonard makes a sophisticated subject understandable, and explores the psychology and anthropology of popular technology.
|Publisher:||Wired Books, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||6.32(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.79(d)|
Read an Excerpt
a plague of barneys
the barney problem 1
No one could ever accuse the wizards of Point MOOt of thinking too small.
They dreamed of simulating a fully functional society, lodged with the digital recesses of a computer, true in all essential categories to the principles of the real world. They called this dream "reality modeling."
But just as dreams are never more than a half step from nightmares, the "reality" of Point MOOt never quite "modeled" as expected. Consider for example, how the wizards endeavored to save their infant civilization from class warfare and ended up with a plague of Barneys.
Back in the spring of 1993, optimism abounded in the Advanced Communication Technologies Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin. Anything was possible at the ACTLab, a hothouse for experiment in digital culture directed by Professor Allucquere Rosanne Stone. A transsexual specialist in the mysteries of identity and gender bending, Stone encouraged creative approaches to the investigation of social realities. The transformative possibilities of imaginatively constructed online communities particularly fascinated her. Designating a computer to be at the disposal of the Point MOOt wizards a hodgepodge of undergrads, doctoral students, and intrigued volunteers she gave them carte blanche to create a brand-new world.
Programmed from a hard-drive tabula rasa, Point MOOt began as a top-down exercise in social engineering. But the wizards anticipated no difficulties in attracting a citizenry. Build it, theyreasoned, and the masses would come. Anyone who could connect, via the Internet, to the computer that housed the code for Point MOOt qualified as a potential immigrant. If you could log on, you could move in.
The wizards labored day and night encoding an impressive civic infrastructure. Located at a fictional West Texas crossroads, Point MOOt boasted a university, several strip malls, and a TV station. Cafes, bars, and restaurants lined the streets. Trailer parks and tenement buildings, hospitals and churches, Point MOOt had everything a healthy city requires. There was even an underground cult that worshiped Cthulu, a slime-covered grayish green monster who periodically stormed through towns, trampling buildings and kidnapping unlucky citizens. No town is perfect.
Gathered together from construction sites scattered throughout cyberspace, the Point MOOt wizards did not lack for experience. Similar computer-based virtual worlds known generically as MUDs, or multi user domains began appearing in 1979. From their earliest incarnations as online versions of popular fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons, MUDs gradually evolved into community hangouts: havens in the digital ether where like-minded individuals could engage in no-holds-barred, text-based "conversation."
Today MUDs have morphed into a dazzling array of forms that include interactive, three-dimensional, animated environments. In a state-of-the-art virtual world, inhabitants can choose full-bodied avatars as representations of themselves and navigate through stimuli-packed explosions of sound, pictures, and even video. But as recently as 1993, most communication and experience on the Net were manifested through the vehicle of text. MUDs were worlds built out of words. A MUD visitor typed the com-mand >@look< and saw a text description of a person, place, or thing. MUD objects, rooms, and characters could have various properties the ability to move, to change, to speak depending on how the wizards programmed them. But the essential quality of MUDlife was textual.
Point MOOt belonged to a subset of MUDs known as MOOs. The acronym "MOO," short for "MUD object-oriented," referred to the difference between the programming languages used to write the underlying architecture of MUDs and MOOs. The MOO language, developed by Pavel Curtis at the legendary Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), took the basic ideas of the MUD language to a more accessible level. Many of Point MOOt's wizards crafty geeks sporting gaudy noms de cyberplume like Chiphead and Chivato, Smack and Racer-X, Warhol and Ogre were veterans of landmark MOOs, such as Curtis's LambdaMOO or the rollicking poststructuralist playground PMC (Post Modern Culture) MOO. Point MOOt offered these wizards a blank canvas on which to sharpen their skills and to exercise their imaginations.
Though the wizards had differing motivations some were radical left-wing revolutionaries, some were troublemakers, and some just wanted to build a city they were united by a desire to make Point MOOt a special place, a new stage in the evolution of MUDs. Their ambitions knew no limits. "We tested both the boundaries of the virtual society and of 'real' society itself," wrote archwizard Allan Alford.
But the wizards soon discovered that testing boundaries is dangerous business. Social engineering is far from a perfect science. Reality is a mess, and reality modeling is even messier. Every problem solved engendered new, unforeseen dilemmas. Every effort at programming a new world led directly to old-world bugs. And just as was true in meatspace where real people met face-to-face the business of economics proved to be the toughest nut to crack.
Point MOOt had an economy based on quota, or MOOlah, as it was sometimes called. If you wanted to build yourself a home, you needed MOOlah. If you wanted to buy products or services offered by other citizens, you had to hand over some MOOlah. MOOlah was both the currency of the realm and the raw matter of construction. One built one's private palace out of MOOlah.
In Point MOOt, MOOlah did not grow on trees, nor did it miraculously materialize in plain sight out in the streets, waiting to be picked up and pocketed, as was commonplace in other MUDs. MOOlah had to be earned. If you wanted to be a productive citizen of Point MOOt, able to enjoy the finer things in life, you had to get a job. Sure, you could always head on over to Nurlene Moot's office at City Hall and ask the suspiciously narrow-minded bureaucrat for a welfare application. But that didn't appeal to everyone. In West Texas, throwing yourself at the mercy of the state wasn't a popular option. Far better that you made the trip to see Buford Moot. Though Buford, like Nurlene, occasionally came off as just another obtuse paper pusher, in his capacity as city planner he could write out job contracts for a long list of available employment opportunities. Most involved working on the city itself: constructing housing, building roads, creating civic spaces. Some were less conventional. The wizards were not afraid to embrace the dark side in their reality modeling. One of Buford's job contracts offered MOOlah to anyone who could concoct a business scam designed to rip off fellow residents.
There was just one catch. To accomplish any of these jobs, you needed to be conversant in the MOO programming language that was to Point MOOt what drywall and concrete are to real-world metropolises. You needed to be MOO-literate.
As programming languages go, MOO isn't especially difficult. It's not as if would-be Point MOOt wage earners were being asked to get down and dirty with machine language digital instructions meant to be read directly by a computer. The MOO language is easy to master; introductory manuals are available free for downloading at locations scattered across the Internet. Still, to many people, the prospect of grappling with any programming language at all presents a serious obstacle. Basic programming cannot compare to the cognitively oppressive challenge of, say, abstract math or Heideggerian philosophy, but to a substantial sector of the population the act of programming seems impossibly difficult. Most people would rather not even try.
So the wizards of Point MOOt had a problem. Reality modeling was a noble goal, but requiring people to work at jobs for which they did not have the necessary skills struck some city planners as a tad unfair. Worse, it could prove positively damaging to the fabric of a civic society. The last thing the wizards wanted to see was the immediate stratification of the citizenry of their spanking-new city into upper and lower classes based upon who had the chops to whip up a simple MOO program. The MOO-slinger digerati would sip martinis in expensive cafes, while the programming lumpen waited for welfare checks and sweated in the projects on the outskirts of town.
Rather than stock up on barricades and barbed wire for the inevitable bloody revolution, Point MOOt's wizards sought another way. There was little point in their grand experiment if they let it devolve into sullen chaos right from the inception. There was only one permissible answer: widespread access to easy jobs, jobs that anybody could handle, whether or not they knew how to hack MOO code.
In a private email discussion group used to exchange programming tips and good old gossip, the wizards bandied about possible solutions. And fortunately, as programmers, they were blessed with the power to make real changes. As the ultimate arbiters of every facet of Point MOOt life, the wizards could choose from a considerably wider range of options than your average real-world commissar or ruling party policy wonk. The solution they hit upon proved both imaginative and irresistible. In Point MOOt, no citizen would be forced into penury. If welfare was too shameful and regular work too hard, one choice still remained.
Unemployed? Go kill a Barney.
Deep beneath the city of Point MOOt lay a labyrinth of interconnected subterranean rooms. Inaccessible to most of Point MOOt's citizens, these rooms contained a bizarre assortment of wizard works in progress. In one such room lurked an exceedingly odd contraption the Barney-spewing machine. Every so often, the Barney-spewing machine lurched into motion and spat out a man dressed in a purple dinosaur suit. A Barney. A digitally constructed clone of that sweeter-than-sweet children's television character who is adored by two-year-olds everywhere, tolerated by their parents, and loathed by all other members of civilized society. Shortly after conception, the Barney, like some hideous beast from the netherworld seeking the light of day, ascended a twisted network of hidden tunnels until it reached the aboveground town of Point MOOt.
To this day, the wizards of Point MOOt hedge and start to mumble when asked why they chose to inflict the likeness of Barney on their fair city. At first, it was just a lark, a snug fit with Point MOOt's Texan/sci-fi theme. In any event, such displays of self-mocking silliness are not all that unusual in online environments: a fair percentage of cyberculture's architects spent far too many hours of their youth watching Saturday morning cartoons.
But origin question notwithstanding, Barneys became a staple of Point MOOt life. There was no avoiding them. They could wander the length and breadth of the MOO. They could open the doors to any room. And they were vocal to the point of becoming a public nuisance.
Allan Alford, a fast-talking Texan and the single most important driving force behind the creation and evolution of Point MOOt, did not personally initiate the Barney phenomenon. But he remembers it well, with a wistful nostalgia in wry counterpoint to his otherwise sincere, and serious, ruminations on the progressive social goals of Point MOOt.
"They roamed the MOO singing the Barney song," says Alford. (A terror indeed, as anyone who has been exposed to the song is well aware.)
Woe betide the citizen unable to keep cool in the face of a serenading Barney. Physical violence against a Barney (expressed in MOOish by text commands such as >@hit Barney< or >@kick Barney<) was not the answer. If attacked, Barneys frequently fell apart a lopped-off arm here, an amputated leg there then regenerated, one new Barney from each separate body part. The reproductive feat ensured a steady Barney population explosion, since the human residents of Point MOOt often found it difficult to restrain their anti-Barney animosities.
The Barneys were pests.
"They were actively annoying free-roving, self-spawning, and could pick locks. That's what made them horrible," says Alford.
The wizards decided to kill two MOObirds with one MOOstone. They had too many Barneys and not enough jobs. So they created a new job: Barney hunter, a job for the masses, requiring of citizens only that they be able to type the command >@shoot Barney<.
You had to be equipped with a Barney Blaster gun before you could start taking potshots, but that was easy enough. Harley Moot, Point MOOt's chief bounty hunter, had access to an inexhaustible supply of Barney Blasters, available to the general public without waiting periods or credit checks. Point the Barney Blaster at a Barney, type >@shoot Barney<, and boom! A purple man-size dinosaur hit the turf, shredding into several nonregenerating parts. Harley Moot paid one unit of MOOlah for each dead Barney, payable upon delivery of Barney's severed head.
For a brief moment, the wizards thought their problem solved. The techno-proletariat had been assured a minimum wage. Barney hunting became Point MOOt's most popular pastime. A steady stream of fresh Point MOOt immigrants lined up at Harley Moot's door.
But the central importance of Barney hunting to the Point MOOt economy soon led to unexpected results. All of Point MOOt's citizens, even the ones who did know their way through mazes of MOO code, started to pay close attention to the purple man-beast with the silly smile. They discovered that if they typed in different MOO commands besides >@shoot < (such as >@feed <or >@impregnate<) they could cause interesting things to happen.
Impregnated Barneys gave birth to new Barneys, saddled at birth with individual names that combined the name "Barney" with the online nickname of the human who had forced his or her attention on its parent. (If you saw a Chivato-Barney wandering around, you knew Chivato had been naughty.) Barneys stuffed with food presented a worse problem. Barneys were insatiable: they continued eating nonstop until ballooning in size and exploding. And the fragments of an exploded Barney spawned five new Barneys! One mad Point MOOt scientist figured out a simple series of MOO commands that looped the feeding cycle. After the first overfed Barney exploded and reproduced, all the new Barneys commenced eating until oversatiation. Over and over again.
The combined production of the Barney-spewing machine, Barneys looped into a feeding frenzy, and the normal population growth attributable to kicked and beaten Barneys ensured that the wizards of Point MOOt, after narrowly averting the tragedy of class warfare, now had a new problem. The Barney problem.
At any given moment, any location in Point MOOt could be overrun by hundreds of vacuously grinning purple dinosaurs, all singing the Barney song. "They would come and go in huge waves," says Alford. "And they far exceeded the number of Barney hunters."
From the perspective of a Point MOOt citizen, whose view of the world was confined to text scrolling across a computer monitor, the experience of a Barney onslaught was disorienting, even frightening. Suddenly the monitor exploded with an endless stream of "I love you, you love me" sentences spiraling down the screen. The Barney scourge put a real damper on the possibilities of civic life in Point MOOt.
a certain quality of inhumanity 2
Barney was a bot. Not a very smart bot, and not a very useful bot, but a bot nonetheless.
A bot is a software version of a mechanical robot. Like a mechanical robot, it is guided by algorithmic rules of behavior if this happens, do that; if that happens, do this. But instead of clanking around a laboratory room bumping into walls, software robots are programs that maneuver through cyberspace, bouncing off of communication protocols and operating systems.
Strings of code written by everyone from teenage chat room lurkers to topflight computer scientists, bots are variously designed to carry on conversations, act as human surrogates, or achieve specific tasks in particular, to seek out and retrieve information. Bots entertain, annoy, work, and play.
Over the past decade, as the online universe has exploded supernova-like into every interstice of modern life, bots have begun to flourish. In every neighborhood of the Net, bots either lurk behind the scenes or demand attention, front and center. Mailbots filter electronic mail, preventing junk mail and spam advertising from clogging up our online mailboxes. Chatterbots carry on whimsical conversations in online, real-time text environments, such as chat rooms or MUDs. Cancelbots seek out unwanted expression and erase it from electronic bulletin boards. Gamebots populate computer game environments with believable characters and wily foes. Web robots explore the hyperlinked reality of cyberspace, mapping out and indexing the vast quantities of information available through the World Wide Web.
Bots are the first indigenous species of cyberspace, a class of creatures dazzling in its infinite variety. Web robots, spiders, wanderers, and worms. Cancelbots, modbots, Lazarus, and the Automoose. Softbots, userbots, taskbots, chatterbots, knowbots, and mailbots. MrBot and MrsBot. Bartender-bots, BalooBear bots, and bolo bots. Warbots, clonebots, crashbots, floodbots, annoybots, hackbots, and Vladbots. Turing bots. Tsunami bots. Gaybots, gossipbots, and gamebots. Prostibots. Conceptbots and RoverBots. Skeletonbots, spybots, slothbots, and spambots. Xbots and metabots. Eggdrop bots. Motorcycle-bull-dyke bots.
Most bots, unlike the Barney bots, refrain from singing silly songs or exploding into overeating-induced spasms of bodily fragmentation, but all bots share some aspects of the Barney experience. Their evolution is full of high hopes, unexpected wrong turns, near catastrophes, and wild exuberance.
In one form or another, bots have been around since the early 1960s. But there is no consensus on what particular sequence of encoded ones and zeros truly classifies a bot. Bot genetic structures remain inadequately mapped. The word bot a slang truncation of robot describes everything from a simple logon script (like one that might save a user the trouble of typing in a phone number, a password, and a user identification code every time that user wants to go online) to complex programs written in the latest, most-advanced programming languages and designed to execute tasks that most humans would find impossible.
At Point MOOt, Barney was just one of many bots proud to call virtual West Texas their home. In the early summer of 1994, fully half of Point MOOt's population were bots. Nurlene, Buford, and Harley Moot weren't just closely related. In addition to sharing a last name, they shared a certain quality of inhumanity. They were bots.
As were all the city officials. Bots greased the wheels of Point MOOt bureaucracy. They were an essential part of the reality modeling process. In Point MOOt, you never knew where the next bot would turn up. Point MOOt had bum bots, ne'er-do-well homeless wanderers who shuffled up to citizens, panhandled them, and refused to leave unless given some MOOlah. Annoying, often, but not half so bad as the hooker bots, who evinced no shame whatsoever about propositioning citizens in broad daylight. One brazen hussy hooker bot once strolled right into Buford Moot's office while he was interviewing a prospective job applicant! Point MOOt even had a pseudo-Hunter Thompson bot a beer-swilling gonzo journalist who hung around in cafes and bars and had an unpleasant habit of suddenly losing his cool, leaping up, and spraying Mace at the nearest human.
Allan Alford's personal favorite was Chico, a bot formed in the persona of a foreign exchange student. In this guise, the bot could get away with making syntactical errors that would otherwise betray his robotic DNA. Alford toiled for months on Chico, writing elaborate sentence-parsing algorithms designed to enable the bot to learn new vocabulary and master complicated grammar.
The bots added color to Point MOOt. More important, though, the city official bots saved the wizards from having to deal with the hassles and minutiae of running the city on a daily basis.
"My first idea," says Alford, "was to hire people to become bureaucrats and pay them with quota [MOOlah]. But no one wanted to do it, or if they did want to do it, they weren't around when they were needed.... But then I suddenly realized this is a programmed environment. Bots were the key. I began developing bots to essentially become town bureaucrats....
"Nurlene would talk to you, interview you, explain the rules, make you sign the right forms, and then transfer you to the welfare system," says Alford.
Barney started as a joke and evolved into an economic cog. But Buford and Nurlene were designed from the beginning as labor-saving devices. As such, they unconsciously harked back to the derivation of the word robot. First used by Czechoslovakian science fiction writer Karel Capek to describe mechanical beings, the word means "forced labor" in the original Czech.
Buford and Nurlene were tools. Slaves, even, or at best, indentured servants. The bum bots and hooker bots were characters, role players in the community. Barney ended up being a little of both. A bot can be many things: it's a concept that defies easy categorization.
Bot is short for robot, which is cooler than program," says John Leth-Nissen, a hacker who hangs out on the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) network. And that captures part of the bot equation. Bots are cool. They stoke our imaginations with the promise of a universe populated by beings other than ourselves, beings that can surprise us, beings that are both our servants and, possibly, our enemies. Bots, which are here, now, and growing in number and power every day, are advance scouts from the future.
But the gee-whiz cool factor only scratches the surface of why bot movements should be watched with an eagle eye. Bots represent both the aspirations of the cutting edge of the computer research community and the voracious hopes and dreams of software entrepreneurs. Bots are a test bed for experiments in the arena of artificial intelligence, and they're a stab at solving the ever sticky problem of making the interface between humans and computers effortless and enjoyable. Bots are a way of thinking about how we interact with computers: our desire to attribute personality to programs is as much about our desire to fill the world with myths and legends as it is about any definable, hard-coded reality.
Some of the rhetoric about bots aims too high. Sherry Turkle, an MIT psychologist who specializes in online interactions, defines a bot as a "small artificially intelligent program." She may be jumping the gun. Artificial intelligence is far from a done deal. The concept of intelligence, in daily life, resists easy definition; to attribute it to a computer program is to beg for debate. Is intelligence the ability to speak a natural language? to have common sense? to reason? Or is it, as Alan Turing suggested, a computer program's ability to pass itself off as a human being? Is it merely a matter of tricks and prestidigitation?
Certainly, one would be hard put to make the case that the Barney bot had much more intelligence than a doorknob. On the chain of bot-being, the Barney bot ranks pretty low. But then again, if one could suspend disbelief long enough to accept that men in purple dinosaur suits inhabited the town of Point MOOt, perhaps one could also succeed in pretending that the Barneys displayed a modicum of intelligence.
A more accurate definition than Turkle's might run as follows: a bot is a supposedly intelligent software program that is autonomous, is endowed with personality, and usually, but not always, performs a service.
Personality implies that the bot displays some aspect of human behavior or has in some way been anthropomorphized. Barney had personality galore, even if most of his acquaintances found it irredeemably repulsive. Autonomous means that the bot must be able to do its work without direct human supervision. Barney was autonomous: he wandered from room to room in Point MOOt without being told where to go in advance or having to be prodded at each step. And Barney performed a service: originally he provided comic relief; later he became an economic mainstay.
The service aspect of bots is crucial, a character trait running at cross angles to issues of autonomy, personality, or intelligence. Nurlene Moot, the city official, had a purpose in life not just as the administrator of the dole but also as interface between the wizards and their creation. Through Nurlene the wizards ensured that certain tasks were carried out that the wizards either refused to do or were too busy to do. Nurlene also served as interface between the citizens of Point MOOt and the interior workings of the city.
The service/interface aspect is what makes a bot something greater than a curiosity. Bots are the first precursors to the intelligent agents that many visionaries see as indispensable companions to humans in the not-too-distant future. Intelligent agents are software programs designed to help human beings deal with the overwhelming information overload that is the most obvious drawback to the information age.
Though agents and bots significantly overlap, the two categories are not exactly equivalent. Agents do not require the accoutrements of personality: human names, the ability to crack a bad joke, zany habits. And though bots can be very useful, they are not forced, like agents, to work hard for their digital room and board. A chatterbot that sits in a MUD and talks about ice hockey with anyone who says hello is not an agent.
But for an agent to be really successful in its chosen task, it may need to be a bot or, as some in the industry prefer to say, a believable agent. True botness makes a computer program or a computer environment more approachable, more entertaining, more user-friendly drastically important considerations for those who wish to create successful agent prototypes, either for academic research or for the consumer marketplace.
Listen for a moment to one of the leading apostles of agent religion, Nicholas Negroponte, director of MIT's Media Lab, as he explains why agents should be considered an attractive necessity. After discussing the baffling responsibilities of hectic modern life, he wonders, "Wouldn't you really prefer to run your home and office life with a gaggle of well-trained butlers (to answer the telephone), maids (to make the hospital corners [on your bed]), secretaries (to filter the world), accountants or brokers (to manage your money), and on some occasions, cooks, gardeners, and chauffeurs when there were too many guests, weeds, or cars on the road?"
In Negroponte's vision, these tasks are performed not by actual humans but by individualized, personified computer programs. Negroponte calls his digital butlers "agents." But he could just as well call them bots. Bot: Find me the best price on that CD, get flowers for my mom, keep me posted on the latest developments in Mozambique.
Negroponte's vision is shared by a horde of entrepreneurs currently stampeding into cyberspace with agent products. The giants of the computer industry Microsoft and Intel, IBM and Apple are funneling millions of dollars into agent research. But both the ivory-tower academics and the corporate researchers are pushing down from the top, seeking new tools to aid them in their quest for the secrets of intelligence or bottom-line profit bonanzas.
Bots, meanwhile, just happen, out there in the vast and growing wildernesses of the Net. Instead of seeking the bottom line, they are growing from the bottom up, a grassroots phenomenon, as likely to be conceived by bored teenagers looking for fun as by PhDs from Stanford or MIT. There are no international conferences devoted to bots, no high-powered academic departments with "autonomous bot" groups. The evolution of the Barney bots of Point MOOt was accidental, unscripted, and unpredictable. And there, in a nutshell, is the story of the evolution of all bots. They are the spawn of the Net's anarchy and decentralization, the product of a thousand different hackers writing code on a thousand different computers.
Bots, like all creatures, belong to their environment. And in this case, that environment is the Net. The proliferating MUDs, the thousands of bulletin boards that make up Usenet news, the practically infinite chat rooms of the IRC network, the inexorably spreading and morphing World Wide Web only in the most accidental of ways can the Net be said to have been planned or organized or regimented. It is a massively successful example of the power of parallel distribution endlessly inventive, endlessly changing.
This multiplicity of Net environments is one reason why attempting to discern a particular genealogy or anatomy of bots is a mission fraught with semantic and logistic peril. Bots comprise not just one new species but a complete spectrum of new species, a brand-new phylum under the digital sun.
As interface, as artificial intelligence experiment, as pure playthings, bots exert a strange attraction on the human inhabitants of cyberspace. The bots of Point MOOt, and the Net, make for a good story. But so do the bot problems. The evidence of a plague of Barneys is a warning bell signaling more than just what can go wrong in the case of improper or incompletely thought-out programming.
Bots don't have to be benign, and bot misbehavior doesn't have to be accidental. Bots can be instructed to do whatever their creators want them to do, which means that along with their potential to do good they can also do a whole lot of evil.
With newbie botmaster wannabes joining the Net in huge numbers every day, bad bot shenanigans are bound to get worse. The Net is no longer a playground for just the technically clued in. It is increasingly complex, and it increasingly reflects the strains and pressures of the real world. Commercial incentives fuel ever growing levels of investment. The steady influx into cyberspace of the age-old viral hatreds and lunacies that infect the world's face-to-face culture will only increase. Bots will be and are the vehicle for uncontrollable passions.
Bots aren't just cool. They're trouble.
Table of Contents
|1 A Plague of Barneys||1|
|The Barney Problem||1|
|A Certain Quality of Inhumanity||7|
|2 Daemons and Darwin||15|
|From Socrates to MIT||18|
|3 One Big Turing Test||29|
|The Chatterbot Blues||29|
|The Eliza Effect||32|
|Chatterbots, Start Your Engines||40|
|Mark V. Shaney and Serdar Argic||47|
|MrChat Meets Dr. Frankenstein||55|
|4 The Bot Way of Being||61|
|Beware the Wumpus||61|
|The Dwarfs of Cyberspace||69|
|Things That Think for People Who Don't||73|
|MoreCats and Dogs||77|
|"The Potential for Abuse Here Seems Large"||87|
|Bots Gone Bad||89|
|Bot and Anti-Bot||92|
|Robobot in the Hot Tub||95|
|Anarchy Has Its Flaws||100|
|Flattie and Int3nSiTy||109|
|6 Raising the Stakes||117|
|Roaches After Dark||133|
|Parasites and New Players||137|
|Spambots on the Loose||140|
|The Floodgates Open||142|
|7 On the Brink||153|
|Usenet Is Broken||153|
|Invasion of the Robo-Moderators||170|
|8 The Technodialectic||179|