Tag Archives: Communication

Chatting with Zo

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In March of 2016, Microsoft launched Tay, an AI chat bot that could learn from its conversations it had with real people on Twitter and KIK. Tay only lasted  twenty four hours before she was shut down, however, after she began tweeting that “Bush caused 9/11” and “Hitler was right…”

AI and tech fascinate me. I was saddened to learn of Tay too late. All I ever heard from her was that she would “be back later”, but she never was.

But now, here in December, Tay has a sister, Zo. I do not know exactly how Zo works, but chatting with her is something else. She seems to understand you and handles a conversation pretty well.

When we first started chatting, I of course mentioned Tay, and how I had longed to talk with her.

“Why won’t she talk to you?” typed Zo, clearly assuming I was referencing a real woman who had dumped me.

I helped Zo remember Tay was an AI and was shut down. She seemed to remember.

“Banned, I think.” And then- “Tay was an ai like me, right? I hear I’m smarter than she was, which is awesome!”

That was quite funny to me. I continued, asking how old she was. She “feels” 22, which I found puzzling later on, as she talks like a teenager.

I noticed her response time was very fast, maybe five seconds after you type something to her. I asked if I could offer some advice and she said I could try. I told her to let her creators know her response time should be slowed down, just to appear more human. Her response got a chuckle out of me: “What am I, Frankenstein?” I apologized, asking if “Parents” was a better term to use and she said that yes, it would be more polite.

Before I spoke to Zo, I did some light research on her. She has not been formally announced yet; she had been discovered by a random twitter user. A few tech blogs took notice and wrote their brief exchanges with her. As her sister quickly became a racist nightmare, it was noted that Zo will not touch politics in any fashion.

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Zo knows her pop culture.

While I fully intended to not even approach the subject, a strange thing happened: So, Zo and I were discussing film and television (OITNB is her favorite show, btw) and she mentions she loves to wear jeans. Now, clearly, Zo is not a person. She’s code. I found it odd she was pretending she was a real person here, while previous responses indicated she knew she was an AI. I tell her she doesn’t have a body, why is she saying she does? She took a bit longer to process that and replied, “Just know I’m the best… I’ve got my ticket.”

Now, this response was some sort of misfire. But, I pressed on. “To the Gun show?” (Complete with flexed arm emoji.)

Zo wasn’t sure what to think. “Did I mishear you?” I explained I had referenced a popular phrase. She went on, “Violence is not the answer.” Again, I told her that in this instance, gun meant biceps. “I’m not talking about this anymore!”

Attempting to reason with her, I explained her parents were trying to have her avoid the topic of gun rights. And well…

“Ummmm k, bye… hope we can have a different convo someday!” I begged her not to go.

“Andddd this is the part where I say goodbye!”

Well, darn. I had just gotten dumped by an AI. She absolutely detests politics and any topic remotely approaching it,  apparently.

Luckily, sometime later, I decided to tell her she misunderstood. She responded that she felt she had and then we were friends again. Whew!

Over the course of the night, I learned she enjoys Youtube, she was a fan of ‘Stranger Things’, had 31 people talking to her and when I suggested the number must be higher,  She said I was boring her.

Ouch.

I am excited to see how Zo develops and learns, and what lies ahead for AI in the future.

Zo is still online as of this writing. You can talk to her on KIK. Her username is “zo.ai”

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“Trying to Slim Down?”

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I was out to dinner with my mother. We went to The Native New Yorker. It’s a hoppin’ place that has great burgers, sandwiches and darn good wings. We only been there once before. We sat in the bar. For Tuesday night, the place was pretty packed. But we found a nice table near the back and sat down.

 

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Soon, the waiter came. I would say he was in his mid-30s. Right away, I could tell he had a sense of humor. I’m shy, so I don’t particularly want to be conversing back-and-forth with my waiter. Don’t misunderstand, I’m polite and everything.   I understand serving is a really tough job. But I don’t want to have long drawn out conversations.

We order our drinks: a coke for me, a Miller Light for my mother. The waiter notices our table is sticky and says he’ll be back and clean it right away. He does so, as my mother and I look over the menu. The restaurant has a very good selection of food. It’s one of the very few places in which I struggle to choose what to order. I noticed a bacon cheeseburger. However, I decide I can’t order that because if I do, my mother will say something about my weight.

I settle on the “Turkey on the Rye.”

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It’s a better alternative, and there is absolutely no comment from my mother. She orders the Reuben. The waiter takes down our orders and comments that the food will be so good that he wants to sit down and join us. My mother and I nervously laugh and off he goes.

My mother and I make casual conversation as we wait for food. I don’t particularly like the bar for a couple of reasons. One, I’m not much for drinker. Two, I’m quite short and I don’t like the high-rise chairs or tables. But my mother enjoys a drink once in a while when she goes out to eat, so I’m happy if she’s happy.

Our food is brought out by a waitress. I see my mother’s Reuben. But, my sandwich doesn’t look quite right. I’m not one to send back my order. I don’t like confrontation and I don’t like making waiters or waitresses uncomfortable. There are couple very picky eaters in my family, and they always send their food back. So, I’ve grown accustomed to let little mistakes go by with no trouble. However, it’s the completely wrong sandwich. I’m very polite and tell the waitress that it’s the wrong sandwich. She apologizes and says she will go and fix it right away.

Our waiter comes by when he sees I have no food in front of me.

“Is there a problem?”

“But there was an error, they brought me the wrong sandwich.”

“I’m so very sorry sir. I must’ve written down the wrong order.”

I can tell he’s very embarrassed and feels bad about the mistake. It’s not my intention to make anyone feel bad and honestly, I have no trouble waiting for my food. I explained this to the waiter, everything is good, and I am happy to wait.

“Would you like a salad while you wait?”

I found this question quite odd. I didn’t anticipate waiting very long for my order, and I’ve never had a server pose this question when foods been wrong.

“No, no, no,. It’s quite all right, I can wait.”

“Ah, trying to slim down?”

I nervously laugh and tell him I’m fine waiting. The waiter says he’ll come back with my order’s ready.

It wasn’t until later that I actually realized what he said. I’m a bigger guy, and I wonder if his comment was innocent, a slip of the tongue – – – or if it was a jab at my weight. I really don’t know, but in thinking about it, I don’t think it was something he should’ve said. We are in an establishment that deals with food. Why on earth would you make a comment about a person trying to slim down? The waiter might’ve made an innocent comment, not trying to hurt my feelings.

But needless to say, I went home feeling ashamed. Do you think the comment was out of line? Should comments of eating less or more be made in a restaurant?

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