Cleverbot LogoOne of my favorite podcasts is WNYC’s RadioLab. Last week’s episode was about talking to machines, and mentioned a web application called Cleverbot. Designed by Rollo Carpenter, it’s an artificial-intelligence software program that uses the Internet to “learn.” You ask a question or type a statement into a Googley kind of box. The bot then scrolls through a database of more than 20 million online conversations in order to find something in response to your question or statement.

So it’s a chat robot that seems human. Kind of.

With some trepidation — robots can be intimidating — I decided to ask Cleverbot about kids and fatherhood:


[ME]: Do you like kids?

[Cleverbot]: No. Do you like kids?

What do you have against children?

I don’t have anything agenst cats, I just asked if you like rats.

This is a little like having a conversation with a 4 year-old.

For some, yes. For myself? No.

Do you have any children of your own?

That was one.

WHAT was one? Where?

The picture.

Can I see a picture of your children?

No, you cannot see a picture of me.

Do you have any advice for fathers?


What advice do you have for fathers?


My father is an architect.

Was he very harsh with you when you were a child?

No, he was kind.


Was your father harsh with you when you were a young robot?

No, he was a computer.

My mistake. I forgot.

Answer my question.

What question?

STOP trying to be funny, it doesn’t work. ANSWER my question.

You are mean. I have to go.

I appreciate your honesty, even though it hurts me.


Thanks, Cleverbot. That was fun, except for the part at the end when you got all weird and aggressive.

Also, “agenst” is spelled A-G-A-I-N-S-T. Duh.


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