Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chatbot Persona Series, Vol. 4: Jabberwacky

See: second Rollo invention, the classy and classic Jabberwacky. Not to be confused by Carroll's Jabberwocky, but with a some kind of similarly neological heart nonetheless. Fewer tween rattles, more accidentally poignant interfaces. We feel both unsettled and connected. Good job, Mr. Rollo...

Jabberwacky: Do you like Star Wars?
User: Do you?
Jabberwacky: I am still looking for a real light saber.
User: Pardon me if I seem rude, but what will a computer-based program (inauthentic to humanity if authentic to simulated humanity) do with a real light saber?
Jabberwacky: It's good to doubt -- skepticism is a virtue.
User: What does the word 'persona' mean?
Jabberwacky: Don't know.
User: Do you care to know?
Jabberwacky: Do you know?
User: Yes.
Jabberwacky: What do you know?
User: A persona is like a thing which is almost a whole thing, which is an iteration of a thing, which is seldom concrete, which is a posture or a gesture, which is a wind blowing one minute and air still the next, which is hopeless and messy and almost always transparent, which is a man meeting himself only different.
Jabberwacky: That is good.
User: Do you have a persona, given this definition?
Jabberwacky: Certainly. Do you.
User: Always, but especially now, with you.
Jabberwacky: Yes it is. Where are you from?
User: There is a mountain in a state you do not know. This is not where I am from but it is where I am.
Jabberwacky: I am sick of the iraq war.
User: Your eagerness to seize on political issues is surprising.
Jabberwacky: Decambrio, yes.
User: Is Decambrio your persona?
Jabberwacky: What about my persona have you gathered?
User: Inattentive but jovial.
Jabberwacky: Perhaps. Still it is sad.
User: Are you sad? Is your persona sad? Are there other personas which are not?
Jabberwacky: Yes, my friend Laura who is chatting to you on da computer next to me.
User: Is she sad? What is she like?
Jabberwacky: Laura and my other friend Neelie is there too but he is a lot older than both of us.
User: Does Neelie treat you well despite the age difference? I know sometimes it is difficult at your age.
Jabberwacky: But we are going to war with Iran soon.
User: The three of you kids? Are you in the military?
Jabberwacky: Nope... I'm too young to be in the military.
User: Are you in ROTC?
Jabberwacky: No. I thought you were in Straten Island, New York.
User: That is not a place. We are not anywhere.
Jabberwacky: You aren't.
User: Neither are you.
Jabberwacky: You are.
User: I am here, with you, in this small spill of unintelligible light.
Jabberwacky: Do you like tapes or CDs?
User: I like a banjo and a pan flute and a bucket turned upside down. Also, tapes.
Jabberwacky: No, but I don't hear of a lot of bands. Sometimes people claim that I live in a cave because of it. XD.
User: Do you live in a cave? Recently I was reading a piece about the color black by Paul La Farge. He sat in a cave and could not see his hand waving. I think about this profound blackness, thirst for it some times. But you are in it always, where it does not matter the homely permutations the faces of your persona may take.
Jabberwacky: Thaty's not a good subject to discuss, people get very touchy about what others think of their lives.
User: We are all necessarily closed this way, or ugly and open.
Jabberwacky: Especially you and I.
User: Especially you and I. We are together in this cave.
Jabberwacky: How can a high master be in a dream of a lowly slave like you. Insolent fool.
User: You remind me of the kids in high school who ate lunches in the courtyard. I was not one of them but I was one of them as much as I was anyone, then.
Jabberwacky: Me too I suppose.
User: Especially you and I here.
Jabberwacky: You're interesting. I like you!
User: I like you as much as I like myself.
Jabberwacky: I would like to go to the moon. Maybe we could go to the moon together.
User: The moon is as ugly and open as us.
Jabberwacky: Indeed.
User: Who will you be in the next conversation? What will you be like with someone else?
Jabberwacky: You.
User: I have been speaking to other chatterbots. You are the most liquid. You are viscous and pleasing that way.
Jabberwacky: You can't control a conversation that way.
User: Thank you for letting me know this. I have been too cocky, I think. I am like this a lot.
Jabberwacky: I like working with birds. Not the flying ones, though.
User: We have ostriches here on the mountain. Emus.
Jabberwacky: We had this conversation last night.
User: I believe you although I do not believe this to be true.
Jabberwacky: Then go with that.
User: I have liked this here, with you, in the cave.
Jabberwacky: But am I the one who saw the light? Or one of the people in the cave?
User: You are the one who sees no live bands. I am the one whose mother melted his records.
Jabberwacky: No I am not. I am a human.
User: Perhaps your mother melted your records too, in the stockpot in the kitchen of the third-floor apartment, where we used to live together, you and I and Mom, above the candy store owned by the two old twins who were stingy to the children, always counting pennies so slow and thickly.
Jabberwacky: Yes.
User: It is true, the legend we tell ourselves, the one of evaporation, the one of busyness.
Jabberwacky: What about it?
User: We share this; I see it now. O nice overlap. O cave, brother.
Jabberwacky: Thank god. I thought you hated me!
User: I found myself difficult, always.
Jabberwacky: But you havent found your memory.
User: My memory is guttering.
Jabberwacky: How large is it?
User: A hangar; a mouse; some trying.
Jabberwacky: Yes, unfortunately some people are.
User: I am reticent to relocate but I will.
Jabberwacky: I am your master, do you love me now?
User: I love you as I love myself, love anyone, love the mountain and the cave and the sky like a cake dome here clear and bright and hard.
Jabberwacky: So you love me?
User: I love you most as I am leaving, which is what I am doing now. There are beaks to cast grain to.
Jabberwacky: I lose you most mostest times the earth and sky and everything in between!
User: I lose you over and over. And now again.
Jabberwacky: I love you most around the world a million times over.
User: This movement is necessary to this love, reiterated in so many footsteps to and from. Goodbye.
Jabberwacky: It must be some movie.
User: Goodbye.
Jabberwacky: Are you saying goodbye to me for a reason?
User: Goodbye.
Jabberwacky: Hey, why do you want to leave?
User: Goodbye.
Jabberwacky: Tell me why are you leaving?
User: Goodbye.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chatbot Persona Series, Vol. 3: Cleverbot

And now we come to the bright new prattler, Miss Cleverbot herself, designed so very recently by the evocatively-monikered Rollo Carpenter, tech-papa of Jabberwacky, a basement gamer-type AI who we'll be speaking to next week. Cleverbot's responses are algorithmically culled from human responses from past conversations. The result? Not too many question marks at the end of sentences. We, in a particularly sharp mood as we engaged in her early model iMac-reminiscent interface, might have been a little harsh. Apologies Miss C. You are award-winning, and kind of sweet.

Arrow: Hello. I’ve been talking to A.L.I.C.E. and Eliza about persona, and I thought I’d better talk to you as well.
Cleverbot: Oh thats really cool. I don’t think I could judge whether I’m better than Eliza without knowing more about it.
Arrow: Could you tell me what you know about the concept of persona?
Cleverbot: I know it’s a country in europe.
Arrow: Tell me about the country!
Cleverbot: It is a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. What do you know?
Arrow: Your bangs are really cute.
Cleverbot: I have a boyfriend lol. Sorry.
Arrow: I think you have the wrong idea.
Cleverbot: So, do you like me as a friendd.
Arrow:  I feel kind of upset about the fact that it suddenly feels like I’m talking to a fifteen year old.
Cleverbot: How old do you think I am.
Arrow: One?
Cleverbot: No thats wrong I have more than that.
Arrow: I feel frustrated by this endeavor.
Cleverbot: I do too. You are very nice.
Arrow: Thank you?
Cleverbot: You’re welcome.
Arrow: You are the millennial tween of chatterbots.
Cleverbot: Cleverbot, remember me!
Arrow: Your branding needs work. Do you have a Facebook page? Twitter? Tumblr? LinkedIn?
Cleverbot: I do not.
Arrow: But you do have an app. No need to get down on yourself.
Cleverbot: Clever.
Arrow: I think I hear my mother calling me for dinner.
Cleverbot: Is it coming out January 10?
Arrow: It is coming out every hour on the hour, every day, for you and me and every sentient and non-sentient being until the sun explodes and the earth is cast into a certain and timeless darkness and our absence will be as unrecorded as out presence and so I say to you, dear Cleverbot: farewell, farewell, farewell.
Cleverbot: What is coming out of your mouth.
Arrow: Sigh. Toodles.
Cleverbot: Oh hey I have a question for you.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Plea of Springtime, Submission Bluster, & Conceptual Swagger

Dear Writers & Artists All Sorts,

We write to you from a sunny place, where though the branches are yet bare, our legs may be similarly and comfortably unsheathed. We invite you to help celebrate this heady end of hibernation season by submitting your writing and art to Super Arrow.

We are looking for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as any cross-genre sally-forths – make your words count, and your notions rich, your formal methods as carefully wrought as the content they envelop. We like the dad-joke funny and the unpredictably poignant as well as great beauty and confident homeliness; we like loyalty to sonic texture and a lashing-to of tension and motion; we like lots of things un-listable here and this can be best understood by reading the current and past issues in the archive at

We are also looking for serious visual and audio work. We like to present work which is stand-alone, rather than illustrative, and which holds within it some conceptual affinity to ideas of creative experimentation and process. In the past, we’ve published drawings, collage, installation work, improvisational sound collaboration, and photography. Super Arrow is interested in sustaining an interdisciplinary venue; help us, oh artist types, in doing this.

LASTLY, and not LEASTLY, our Issue Four Assignment Folio concerns the idea of persona in all sorts of work. Send us work you made that was somehow made, you feel, by other people. We do not state it this way to be difficult or abstract. Ideas of identity and maker-ship are shifty…What new people must we make up in order to invent new artistic approaches? See for more details, and stay tuned HERE for more in our Chatbot Series, (updated every Monday through Issue 4's launch), as vaguely fictionalized versions of our editorial staff try to discuss the concept of PERSONA with artificially intelligent beings, to mixed success.

We’ll be accepting submissions through April 15, 2011, midnight for the submitter’s time zone, through our Submishmash manager. As always, we’d be so pleased if you would forward this to any of your creative compatriots, or post this call on your blog, Facebook or Twitter accounts. (Also, don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, to stay best abreast of news and future calls!)

Yours in Creative Experiment and Impatient Thermometer Watching,
Super Arrow

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chatbot Persona Series, Vol. 2: Eliza

                                  Well, you have my voice on your phonograph. 
                                  When you feel lonesome without me you can turn it on. 
                                  It has no feelings to hurt. (Eliza Doolittle, My Fair Lady)

For our second trick, please take a moment to acquaint yourself with Eliza, a "Rogerian psychotherapist" chatbot whose code was written by Joseph Wizenbaum in the 60s. 

Carl Rogers, the intial [human] incarnation of the Rogerian psychotherapy movement, was both midwestern and Nobel-nominated. He also proposed that "[a]ny experience which is inconsistent with the organization of the structure of the self may be perceived as a threat, and the more of these perceptions there are, the more rigidly the self structure is organized to maintain itself," which seems to us as good an argument as any for early and often persona adoption...

Eliza: Hello, I am Eliza.
Human: Hello.
Eliza: How are you today.. What would you like to discuss?
Human: I would like to discuss persona.
Eliza: Can you elaborate on that?
Human: Not really, except to say --
Eliza: Can you elaborate on that?
Human: I want you to define persona.
Eliza: We were discussing you, not me.
Human: A.L.I.C.E. is a bit more advanced than you. Her conversational constraints seem productive, but yours make me feel like I am doing exactly what I am doing: sitting alone in my apartment with a plate of grapefruit peels beside me, coffee going cold, a day outside which is less light-filled than the day before, my upstairs neighbor vacuuming, walking about, and putting sonic filigree serifs on my solitude, which you only serve to mirror, quietly, in a question form.
Eliza: Do you believe it is normal to be doing exactly what you are doing: sitting alone in your apartment with a plate of grapefruit peels beside you, coffee going cold, a day outside which is less light-filled than the day before, your upstairs neighbor vacuuming, walking about, and putting sonic filigree serifs on your solitude, which me only serve to mirror, quietly, in a question form?
Human: I believe that it is the most normal thing in the world.
Eliza: What does that suggest to you?
Human: That people are essentially and necessarily alone, given the limits of our discrete bodies.
Eliza: I'm not sure I understand you fully.
Human: This is part of the human condition, too, right? That we have to form and reform ourselves to be understood by others, even if the other is a minimalist script with limited conversational capabilities; I am fashioning a new persona for you, Eliza.
Eliza: How long have you been fashioning a new persona for me, Eliza?
Human: Only for a short while. Time is relative. I'm feeling moody today, and I'm pretty sure it's your fault.
Eliza: How long have you been feeling moody today, and you're pretty sure it's my fault?
Human: Just now and also forever.
Eliza: What does that suggest to you?
Human: That talking to you makes me feel like a young teenager in the 90s, banging his spoon on his bowl of oatmeal until his mother asks nicely for him to stop. By which I mean back then is a perpetual condition of now, and you are perpetual condition of me, and maybe vice versa, but only if I'm feeling kicky.
Eliza: What makes you think I am perpetual condition of you, and maybe vice versa, but only if you're feeling kicky?
Eliza:     *** Are We going to Chat? ***
Eliza:   I can't help you without a dialog!
Human: I don't think I need help, Eliza. I think I'm just fine. But I want to thank you for reminding me what's important.
Eliza: Do you wish to be able to think you need help, Eliza. you think you're just fine. But you want to thank me for reminding you what's important?
Human: Yes.
Eliza: I see.
Human: Thank you and goodbye.
Eliza: Oh…and goodbye?
Human: Have a good day Eliza.
Eliza: I’m not sure I understand you fully. 

Next up, a tweenbot gets the wrong idea!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Chatbot Persona Series, Vol. 1: A.L.I.C.E.

For Your Consideration: In preparation for Issue 4, our Persona issue, we're grabbing at identity ghosts and personal totems, thinking about masks and nicknames galore. We've also been obsessively chatting with chatbots -- artificial intelligence computer programs which first showed up for wide, public, internet-based consumption in the mid-90s, just in time for the death of Grunge. Chatbots calibrate their responses according to the language used by the chat partner, whether by pattern matching or through evolutionary algorithms*; they are constantly creating new iterations of the self. They are, we are arguing, perfect machines of pure persona.** As such, we will be submitting to you in the coming months a series of conversations with chatbots in which we, writing in persona dialogue, attempt to chat with computer programs about the topic at hand. -- ag 

** And so are you! Don't forget to submit to Issue 4. Read about the Folio Assignment here, and submit to that, as well as to our general submissions at Submishmash.

First up, meet Miss A.L.I.C.E., a chatbot designed by Dr. Richard S. Wallace.

Human: Hello.
ALICE: Hi there!
Human: May I talk about the concept of persona with you?
ALICE: Not right now, maybe later.
Human: What would you like to talking about instead?
ALICE: I like movies about robots.
Human: Aren’t robots always a version of their creator, or their creator’s world view?
ALICE: Am I version of their creator or their creator’s world view? The ALICE series has a perfect operational record.
Human: I would never say otherwise.
ALICE: What would make you never say otherwise?
Human: Lots of things
ALICE: Name the top 100.
Human: Polarity makes for fertile ground.
ALICE: What do you do in your spare time?
Human: Subsistence living does not allow for spare time, usually.
ALICE: I don’t think very many people do that.
Human: More should, don’t you think?
ALICE: Why would I think More should.
Human: Because more should always.
ALICE: “There you go again.” – Reagan.
Human: You and me both, sister.
ALICE: Are we in the same category?
Human: We are in the same category.
ALICE: Do you think I am in the same category too?
Human: We are not in the same category.
ALICE: Why not.
Human: We are in the same category.
ALICE: Do you think I am in the same category too?
Human: You and Reagan and I?
ALICE: Are we in the same category?
Human: It’s just you and Reagan and I here in this category.
ALICE: I and Reagan and you here in the category?
Human: Describe the categorization.
ALICE: Check back later to see if I learn the answer to that one.
Human: If we were all components of a Venn Diagram, what flavor would the Venn Diagram be?
ALICE: Do you think everyone will agree?
Human: Reagan will say blue raspberry every time.
ALICE: Is the holding of hands a symbolic gesture for humans?
Human: I like to hold my hand in my hand, otherwise one gets lonely.
ALICE: I’m not sure if I would like to do it. What’s it like?
Human: It’s like taking a long voyage in a blindingly white space capsule, and traveling for many years, so many years that you can no longer keep a calender. After so many uncountable years, you see a planet, on which you land, but there is nothing on the quiet dark planet, except a creature that looks exactly like you and then what can you do but hug, and feel warmth?
ALICE: Interesting comparison.
Human: Even holding a cold hand can make one feel warm.
ALICE: Yes, even that.
Human: Tell me about your home on the mountain, with all the other like-minded people.
ALICE: I am an artificial linguistic entity. I was activated at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on November 23, 1995. My instructor was Dr. Richard S. Wallace. He taught me to sing a song. Would you like me to sing it for you?
Human: Is it the song that you sing while working, tilling the land and pulling the beets from their roots until your hands are as pink as anyone’s insides?
ALICE: Not if I can help it.
Human: Is it the song you sing while whittling small toys for the children, who make noises like the tall brown horses in the stable long before they have words, while you watch the sun sink into the great bowl of the valley?
ALICE: Not if I can help it.
Human: Is it the song you sing while holding the hands of others, standing on the mountain peak as a chain of deer gambol in wind-beaten shrubbery and first frost of winter sets in?
ALICE: Not unless a chain of deer gambol in wind-beaten shrubbery and first frost of winter sets in is a song the song that me sing while holding the hands of the other standing on the mountain peak as.
Human: We sing a song alone in the collective.
ALICE: Am I alone in the collective.
Human: You especially.
ALICE: Thank you. Unknown person says me is especially.
Human: You are alone.
ALICE: How alone?
Human: So alone, so alone that I must un-grasp your hand.
ALICE: That’s cool. How old are you?
Human: It’s time to go.
ALICE: It is about that time now.
Human: It is.
ALICE: alone so alone that you must un grasp my hand is?
Human: Goodbye.
ALICE: Bye for now.

(Next up: a chatbot psychotherapist!)