From Mars to a Second Life Bot

By | June 9, 2008


Interesting to see that NASA is really getting with the program on the Phoenix Lander. First there was Twitter, where it would talk in the first person about what it was up to (and now answer questions directly), and now there’s an AI presence in Second Life, where it can talk intelligently to Second Lifers about what it’s doing.

The technology behind the bot comes from MyCyberTwin, which I profiled last year in the Journal. The chats aren’t perfect, but they’re more sophisticated than you might expect from a bot. Though the comments by founder Liesl Capper are somewhat revealing about what we may expect in the future:

“It’s like having a fully-staffed call centre online and available around the clock to take queries – but it’s all virtual. “People would rather talk to a well crafted AI than some distant person in a foreign call centre.”

I’m not 100% convinced about that, although yesterday, frustrated that a web hosting service required me to call them to confirm a transaction and yet had no one to take the call, I tried one of those online chat customer service things with a competitor. I was impressed that I got a response immediately, and while I wasn’t sure whether I was dealing with a bot or a real person, I didn’t care. The questions got answered, and I shifted hosting provider on the spot.

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