A conversation with a bot

It’s approach­ing 3 AM on Christ­mas Day in 2013, and a South Kore­an teenage girl who goes by the Twit­ter han­dle @jjong_gee texts her friend, Jun­myun, to con­fess a per­son­al secret. She’s depressed, and she needs sup­port. “There was a man named Osho who once said ‘don’t be too seri­ous, life is like a mov­ing pic­ture,’” replied Jun­myun. “If you treat what comes at you like a game, hap­pi­ness will come. I want to see you hap­py.” The girl tweet­ed a screen­shot of the text, thank­ing him for the kind words. But Jun­myun, with his words of wis­dom, is actu­al­ly not a real per­son. Jun­myun is actu­al­ly a bot pro­grammed inside a pop­u­lar Kore­an tex­ting app called FakeTalk, or Gaj­ja-Talk in Kore­an.

The App That Lets Depressed Teens Text with Celebri­ties and Dead Friends. Every time I read some­thing like this I remem­ber how bril­liant­ly pre­scient Black Mir­ror can be.

Of course, I had to have a go myself:

A conversation with a chat bot which ends with it declaring its love for me

What’s inter­est­ing is how, despite the bot not being Tur­ing-com­plete, I still felt com­pelled to con­tin­ue the con­ver­sa­tion, and became quite ner­vous at the abrupt turn it took at the end. After all, I don’t want to hurt the feel­ings it doesn’t have.