A visit to uncanny valley

This image shows a humanoid robot called Repliee Q2.

In a post last semester, we used a digital archive to create new objects by designing a little tweeting machine. This technique – using an archive to create an “intelligent” machine – is not only useful for such coding exercises or publicity stunts like the Next Rembrandt. These computational methods are also at the heart of one of Silicon Valley’s trendiest technologies: the interactive “chat bot”.

Everyone does bots – short for “robots” – now: at its most recent developer conference, Facebook announced Messenger Bots for interaction through the Facebook Messenger service; Microsoft is integrating chat bots into Skype; the messenger service Kik is starting a “Build your bot” campaign and its competitor Telegram is offering $ 1 million in grants to bot developers.  “Right now”, the Wall Street Journal writes, “Silicon Valley’s hopes seem to be pinned on the prospect of a bot revolution”.

Read moreA visit to uncanny valley