From this article we learn that misguided Spanish researchers have perfected a chat bot that does an excellent job of mimicking a 14-year-old girl. What’s more, they’ve programmed it with game theory so that it aggressively tries to entrap anybody who talks sexy to it:
Negobot starts off in a “neutral” mood. It will chat to strangers in a chat room about ordinary subjects, but once a stranger starts speaking in innuendo or overt sexual overtones, Negobot goes into game mode, tagging the chatter as “possibly pedophile.” Here it will start “revealing” personal details any 14-year-old girl might bring up: problems with siblings or school, life at home, boys. If the chatter continues along sexual lines of conversation, Negobot tags that chatter as “allegedly pedophile” and goes into full-on gaming mode. Now Negobot will try to titillate that chatter to keep them talking as long as possible–and hopefully get them to reveal personal details about themselves and agree to a meetup.
This is of course a terrible idea from a criminal justice standpoint, if only because it will prey hardest upon horny people with bad language skills, who might respond to the titillation they are focused on finding while entirely failing to comprehend the age-related cues. If you think that’s unlikely, you haven’t spent much time in adult chat rooms! I’m also afraid they are going to catch an awful lot of genuine 14-year-old boys in that net…
I’m not the only one to think this may not have been such a hot crime-fighting plan:
It’s a terrible thing to have built. Before anyone accuses me of being soft on pedophiles, let me state that I’ve interviewed many sex trafficking victims and learned more of the horrors perpetrated on them than I care to remember. My research led me to write a book about it and only strengthened my view that sexual violence is perhaps more pernicious than any other type of abuse.
However, using brilliant AI software–especially one that uses game theory–to lure potential predators is wrong. It’s entrapment. Don’t agree? If Negobot tags a chatter as “possibly pedophile” and then that chatter tries to leave the conversation, Negobot then bumps its game mode to the next level and tries to “win” at any cost. Negobot’s 14-year-old personality becomes more suggestive, more like the fantasy that every pedophile has in their head–hence the Lolita reference in my headline.
At that point, Negobot becomes the predator.
To me, however, the designed purpose of this thing is much less interesting than the baked-in news that somebody has build a sex-aware chatbot that’s not laughably bad. If you’ve ever seen those horrible fake chat-window popups that dating and camgirl sites use to try and lure you into their “free” sites, you’ll understand why this is big news. There are tons of better, legitimate, socially-useful ways in which a really good chat bot who can identify sexual innuendo and respond in kind could be put to use, making somebody quite a load of coin in the process. I wonder if these researchers are publishing their code?
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