I was interested to read about the Loebner Prize competition in which humans try to persuade a panel of scientists that they are human. Judges have typed conversations with people and with computers, and they attempt to tell them apart. In the 2008 iteration of the competition, the judges were fooled 25 percent of the time by these “chatbots.” This Smithsonian article is interesting in describing the ways we all interact regularly with humans and with computer fakes and how we generally (hopefully) know the difference. There are implications for online security, but I’m even more interested in the implications for people trying to connect to others — and the proliferation of false hope when people receive “mail” and find out that it’s spam or they find out that something interesting they’ve read has been tailored to promote a cause or entice them to buy something.
You know the difference between spam and personal email, right? And we hope we can tell when we’re reading real content vs. advertising disguised as such. But can we always tell the difference between a human and a robot? What does it do to us if we discover that we’re interacting with a robot when we think that we’re interacting with people with wills, with personalities, with varied responses, and with surprising reactions?
SPACIOUS is all about human connection, about people knowing (through being with others) that they are valued, important, one-of-a-kind miracles. We’re all about encouraging in-person gatherings. The irony of communicating via blog and via weekly email to our subscribers is that we hope you’ll be inspired by us to get offline and into real live personal engagement. If you never read a thing we write because you are so engaged in real life people, feeling loved and included, welcoming others, well then we’d be thrilled.
Because we’re people, not robots, and we want to impact you — not to simply see big numbers in our stats.