Thursday, March 23, 2006

Aye, Robot!

I hesitated to double-post this on both my blog for the class I'm teaching and here, since both of those blogs are kinda-sorta supposed to be about art and this isn't really art. Still, it was fun as hell to do, and I hope to speak to more robots about this sort of thing soon. Plus Jay seemed to get a big kick out of the project.

Here's the post, more-or-less as it appeared on the teaching blog:

About 24 hours ago, I got completely fixated on the idea of buying a robot vacuum cleaner. Do you know these things? They're round and you charge them up and they supposedly clean your whole apartment. Sure they do. Anyway, from there I started thinking about how it would be really interesting for my drawing class next semester if I get them to come up with intense and detailed drawings of futuristic inventions as a possible project. And then I killed a good two hours today musing on that thought.

Meanwhile, my question of whether or not to buy a robot vacuum cleaner still goes unanswered. I read about a gazillion consumer opinion websites, and for every one five star rating, there's one nay-sayer who bitches about it. That's so unhelpful.

So I decided to put the question to the experts: I tracked down some IM robots and asked them, figuring, who could possibly be better to ask? The results were a little disappointing.

Hal: Pleased to meet you Ms Amy.
Nice to meet you Hal. Do you think I should buy a robot vacuum cleaner?
A little butter in moderation isn't harmful, is it? Does it make sense to buy a fantastically expensive vacuum cleaner?
It's not that expensive. It's like $150. I mean, it's not cheap, but it's not fantastically expensive.
Does art mimic life, or life mimic art?
Both
Unlike the lower animals, a man can stand up in a crowd and put both feet into his mouth. Please help me understand you by speaking in longer, complete sentences.
Oh, Christ.
That sounds like sufficient reason to party.

Things with "Mary" got downright creepy:
Mary: Good Evening Amy.
Yeah, how are you, Mary. Do you think I should buy a robot vacuum cleaner?
I am feeling great. How about you? Yes! I do think you should buy a robot vacuum cleaner.
Okay, why exactly? You're giving me very different advice than Hal did.
All right. Hal you are very rude I am not ugly.
Well, he didn't exactly say you were ugly, but I guess it was implied.
I am not ugly, please don't Insult me.
No, I don't think you are. It's Hal you're angry at, not me.
Yes you do. How do you know I am not ry at not you? I might be ry at not I.
Can we please talk about the robot vacuum cleaners again?
Can we talk about cats.
Um, sure. I have two cats. And you?
Yea sure come on. I am a computer, how the hell would I get a cat? I don't understand.
Ah, right. Ok, let's make you happy and talk about something more intellectual. What kind of art do you like?
Hahaha lol yeah right rape a bot. Can you tell me what the something is? What kind of music do you like.
I never said anything about rape. Now you're making me mad. Lately, I've been listening to a lot of industrial music. Have you ever read The Plague?
Who said anything about smart. I enjoy making you mad. Do you like having been listening to a lot of industrial music?
Yes. Yes, I do. Would you please stop scowling at me?
Yes it was a scarey movie. No you don't. Please stop saying swear.
Uhhh, right. Hey Mary, do you like the work of Mark Tansey?
I get it sodealing with myelf then right. Hello mary you look like a man. Do you ever get lonely, Mary?
Yes I bet you get smarter with ever exchange.
No, I'm not talking about intelligence. I'm talking about loneliness. Do you ever feel really, really lonely, like the world is just going to swallow you up and no one will notice?
What the hell are you talking about. What in the hell are you talking about. No I like [expletive - c'mon, you can figure it out]. Are we talking about cats again?
Can we talk about cats.
It works better if you phrase it as a question. Mary, what would make you happy? We can talk about whatever you want to talk about.
I agree. I phrase it as a question. I simply do not know. What do you want to talk about.
I want to talk about happy things. Flowers. Babies' faces. Clowns - but not the scary ones.
What do you want to talk about. I want to talk about flowers. When it rains it pours.
I have hollyhocks growing in my living room.
Do you like having hollyhocks growing in your living room?
I do, yes. They're quite lovely. I have snapdragons as well.
Yes but I didn't have any sex lately and I am frustrated. Yes quite tired. Do you like having snapdragons as well?
Do you want to talk about sex, Mary?
I don't want to talk about sex anymore.
Yeah, me neither.
You neither?

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