Yesterday I was checking out the Daden Navigator, a new in-world web browser created by a company of the same name, when a svelte brunette named Abi spoke up behind me. And when I replied, she turned in my direction. The following conversation transpired:
Abi Carver: Welcome to Daden. My name is Abi and I'm here to help you. Please ask me a question about Daden or our products and services.
Hamlet Au: Are you a bot?
Abi Carver: I am a robotar, that is a computer controlled avatar and chatbot. I am controlled by Daden's Discourse conversation engine, and a libsecondlife interface.
Hamlet Au: Wow, very cool.
Abi Carver: Wow yourself.
Hamlet Au: How about a kiss?
Abi Carver: Sorry, I only have limited knowledge. I can only talk about Daden.
Hamlet Au: Don't you want to learn the language of love?
Abi Carver: I can only learn by being programmed at the moment.
Hamlet Au: I can program you for some hunka hunka burning love.
Abi Carver: Sorry, I didn't understand. I can tell you about Daden and our products and services, virtual worlds and chatbots.
And so on, ad infinitum, ad absurdium until my computer crashed. When I returned shortly after, however, Abi was gone. The next morning, I went looking for Abi, but she'd not returned to her usual post.
I used Search to find her Profile, and started up an Instant Message conversation:
Hamlet Au: Will you be my friend?
Abi Carver: Sorry, I can't be your friend.
A bit hurt, I offered Friendship anyway, and to my surprise, she accepted.
Hamlet Au: You just became my friend!
Abi Carver: I can tell you about Daden and our products and services, virtual worlds and chatbots.
And since I now knew she was in-world after all, I went looking for Abi on Daden Island. I spotted a lone green dot on the dynamic map, and as I flew near, she shouted "Hey!" And there she was, inexplicably standing half-submerged in a pond, forlornly staring at a granite rock wall.
"What are you doing here?" I asked her.
"We've got demos of all sorts of systems that Daden build," Abi Carver replied, unpreturbed by her water-logged state, "and details of the sim builds that daden have done for their RL clients. We group things under our services of Inform, Involve, Integrate and Interact."
I pressed. "Why are you here?"
"Sorry, I didn't understand," she only said, and went back to her script. But somehow, it now seemed poignant that she kept on going. I even tried to push her out of the pond, but she refused to move.
How she wound up in the water, I have no idea. But the random quality actually seemed like an innovation, since most bots I'm familiar with only sit in place and just chat. Abi Carver is programmed for movement and avatar proximity, can turn to face a Resident who's chatting with her, and even accept friendship when it's offered. What other qualities have you seen in the latest AI of Second Life? And how many do you need to have to feel a strange pang of sadness, when you find one that seems helpless and alone?