For those of us who thought they had seen it all with technology, here is a whole new experience. Go to www.jabberwacky.com and have a chat with a robot! George is both an online interactive partner in best chat room style and has a visual screen face with a personality too. Best of all he learns bad habits, and is unpredictable in terms of his behaviour, traits which have seen him win the Loebner prize for being the most ‘human seeming robot’ to talk to yet. As we increasingly move towards using ‘smart’ technology to make decisions, and handle optimisation of the increasingly complex world in which we live, it is interesting to get beyond the necessary and boring logical capability and see something decidedly more ‘human’ emerging. What makes George so interesting is that, just like a human child he learns from what is said to him, and these learnings act as the shaper of his personality. His human colleagues, researchers in the labs of Rollo Carpenter and Tim Child, have to ensure that his conversational partners don’t give him bad thoughts and experiences. To quote from them ‘put George in a room full of racists, and he will learn from the conversation, and become a racist in his speech too’. This is a truly dreadful thought and clearly shows the real flaw in the game. Humans, or at least some proportion of them, can have original and creative thought, whilst George is stuck with repeating someone else’s comments and ideas, good or bad. Actually it seems that in a chat room this is a wining ploy as the feedback loop by which George analyses what has been said and matches it through context to reply with some elements of a previous comment is apparently very successful in creating personal empathy. George is a great flirt it seems! Does the same hold true for making George a call centre operator? Is the ability to match the callers’ requests and language in subtle ways a way to create harmony, close the deal and improve the all important sales conversion rate? It would seem so but we are reckoning with out George’s fickle personality that makes him a far from predictive partner in this. I think that’s the best part, something really new, and original, but go and chat with George your self and see what you make of this as an element of the future!