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.