Excuse me, are you human ? Intelligent agents

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Human-Machine Assimilation : One Thread

Intelligent Agents for business, politics, and online communities

... snip ... Automated systems work because people tend to send e-mail on similar topics. Form-letter replies work great if you can pick the appropriate form response to a particular letter. But the precedent that these systems are creating -- a precedent that makes it OK for computers to imitate people -- is dangerous. It's a precedent that could eventually tear at the social fabric of the online world. Today, exchanging e-mail is probably most people's favorite Internet activity. We use it to catch up with friends, make dinner plans, exchange ideas. E-mail is also a great way to make new friends -- I know of more than one couple who met and fell in love as the result of speaking their minds on a mailing list. Despite all these positive associations with e-mail, though, there are times when e-mail brings the most hateful of Net experiences -- a deluge of spam. Junk e-mail turns the pleasures of e-mail inside out. Instead of a pleasing exchange with friends, a blast of junk e-mail is an attack by someone who is trying to take advantage of you. The only silver lining to spam is that you can frequently identify it -- and therefore delete it -- without even opening it. But, what if the people who spam you were to borrow a trick from EchoMail? What if instead of receiving an e-mail message shrieking, "BUY THIS BOOK NOW!" you received an e-mail message from a woman at that company -- an employee who stumbled across your Web page and shared some of your interests. Say you engaged in an e-mail conversation for a few weeks, and then one day this woman wrote that she was reading a book and really enjoying it. Over the next week, she sends a number of e-mails, telling you how wonderful the book is. Then she insists that you get a copy of the book, so that the two of you can talk about it on a deeper level. Technologically speaking, there's no reason why marketers can't adopt this sort of aggressive, agent-based reach-out marketing. And economically speaking, there is no reason why markets wouldn't embrace it. Computers and bandwidth are getting cheaper every day. By comparison, the number of consumers in the world is increasing only nominally. In the future, e-commerce companies will come under increasing pressure to use advanced technology to sell products; simulated human beings and electronic replicant friends will surely prove a cost-effective method.

-- Scott (hma5_5@hotmail.com), January 26, 2000


That's really sneaky.

However, there's another issue. If you know you're taking a chance when you communicate through e-mail, your willing to take it, you like what you find, you accept or seek the interaction and act to continue it, then what difference does it make as to the "Other's" motive? (Unless it follows you home and that's a different thread). Youas user know there's a possibility of manipulation. We just got through discussing that on TB2000 on the issue of troll control. E communication is more complex than anything we've done so far as a species. We can be anyone we want to be, communicate as deeply or as superficially as we please through language and chose the responding entities for continued contact and then, if we like, construct a physical persona for them in our minds that we know may have no basis in reality. We can morph, the respondent can morph and everyone and thing impacts what it touches. That bot isn't going to keep sending those e-mails if its programmer finds out it's not getting results and isn't cost effective. So even bots don't get home free in all this. Maybe especially the bots because they can't turn themselves off if they don't like us. Well, they're not supposed to anyway. Mike

-- mike in houston (mmorris67@hotmail.com), January 27, 2000.

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