Virtual chatbot sex
Soon anybody will be able to access the same tool that Pull String has used to create its talking characters. For weeks, amid my dad’s barrage of doctor’s appointments, medical tests, and treatments, I keep the notion to myself.I dream of creating a Dadbot—a chatbot that emulates not a children’s toy but the very real man who is my father.As my audio recorder runs, he describes how he used to explore caves when he was growing up; how he took a job during college loading ice blocks into railroad boxcars.How he fell in love with my mother, became a sports announcer, a singer, and a successful lawyer. Then, a little grandly, I pronounce my father’s name: “John James Vlahos.”“Esquire,” a second voice on the recording chimes in, and this one word—delivered as a winking parody of lawyerly pomposity—immediately puts me more at ease. We are sitting across from each other in my parents’ bedroom, him in a rose-colored armchair and me in a desk chair.
We are sitting here, doing this, because my father has recently been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.The disease has metastasized widely throughout his body, including his bones, liver, and brain.It is going to kill him, probably in a matter of months. This will be the first of more than a dozen sessions, each lasting an hour or more.Eliza astounds me with responses that seem genuinely perceptive (“Why do you feel sad?
”) and entertains me with replies that obviously aren’t (“Do you enjoy feeling sad? Behind that glowing green screen, a fledgling being is alive. A few years later, after taking some classes in Basic, I try my hand at crafting my own conversationally capable computer program, which I ambitiously call , which allow players to control an unfolding narrative with short typed commands, my creation balloons to hundreds of lines and actually works.
But I am still interested in computers that can talk.