Gemini stuns me

Are you for real?

The other day I was surfing, to upgrade a used Compaq I bought from a friend. After barely a minute of surfing, a pop-up window opened — with an instant message from someone from

Hi there. What are you looking for?

Possibly because I’ve been blogging so much about chat-bots — and companies who try to pass them off as “live” help — I was suspicious. Was this a real person, or just some lame chatbot configured to (badly) answer questions about RAM? I decided to run my own little Reverse Turing Test.

Are you actually a real, live human?

Yep. I’m real.

Okay, can you prove it? What did you think of the last Lord of the Rings movie?

Didn’t see it.

Oh, cool. So you actually either are real — or you’re the best-programmed chat bot I’ve ever encountered.

Satisfied now?

I stole that “Lord of the Rings” question from a San Francisco writer, who used it to trip up a crappy ‘bot from SBC Yahoo Internet that insisted it was actually human.

My life is increasingly resembling a Philip K. Dick novel. I’m spending my days trying to figure out whether the people I’m buying stuff from actually exist.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Search This Site


I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

More of Me


Recent Comments

Collision Detection: A Blog by Clive Thompson