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Instant Messenger or Instant Advertiser?

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the insidious-synthetic-friends dept.

Spam 385

Shadow2097 writes: "ABC News is running this moderately disturbing story about a new, highly targeted form of advertising. Two companies, SmarterChild.com and ActiveBuddy.com have teamed up to deliver interactive Instant Messenger bots that talk to children and deliver ever-so-subtle ads for various products. Just when you think market saturation has reached the limit, leave it to a greedy corporation to start targeting the most naive and vulnerable demographic there is."

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One (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355407)

is the loneliest number that you'll ever do.

Re:One (-1)

propstoalldeadhomiez (444303) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355640)

You lose, anonymous shitstain. Your fp has been claimed for all logged in trolls and crapflooders. Better luck next time, anonymous fuckstick.

3rd post (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355413)

booyah!

Active Buddy? (3, Funny)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355419)

Great, push technology again. This time, they can IM you big files. So, can I get p0rn pushed to my computer?

damn u (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355422)

I claim this fost pist for the King! Huzzah!

Well is this just doesn't take the cake (0, Troll)

ahuimanu (237298) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355423)

Utter crap.

BTW, look for any companies distantly related to big tobacco in the "subtle ads." If they are not there now... they will be.

Sigh...

J

most naive? (2, Interesting)

magicslax (532351) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355428)

Just when you think market saturation has reached the limit, leave it to a greedy corporation to start targeting the most naive and vulnerable demographic there is."

what's that, im addicts? [imaddict.com] ?

wow thats scary (0, Redundant)

KaizerWill (240074) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355429)

especially since its targeted towards children.

How is this anything new? (4, Interesting)

sniepre (517796) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355431)

Frankly, i dont see this as a "disturbing trend"...

I see it as the continuation of marketing strategies employed since television existed....

How many of you remember Lucky Charms or Tony the Tiger telling you how GGGrrrrreat!! his cereal was, or Ronald McDonald telling you how fantastic a happy meal was from McDonald's.

Wether its on the television or on the web, it's the same principle at work, IMHO.

Re:How is this anything new? (2, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355454)

Yes, and that's what disturbing. Just like television advertisements that target children, only these are, astoundingly enough, worse, as they try to trick kids into thinking they're engaging in a conversation.

And what excuse is given in response to the moral questions? We have to make a profit. Disgusting.

Re:How is this anything new? (3, Informative)

Suppafly (179830) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355526)

Not sure about Active Buddy.. but SmarterChild is obviously not like talking to an eliza type program that convinces you to buy things. SmarterChild is more like an interactive program that can play text based games with you and give you information such as weather and stocks. You'd be hard pressed to trick anyone that can read that they are talking to anything other than a computer script.

What's worse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355608)

is the CIO of the company defending their product because its better than a stranger finding their kids IM name and conversing with them.

So there you have it. Their product is better than a sex predator. Congratulations.

Re:How is this anything new? (3, Funny)

mgv (198488) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355614)

And what excuse is given in response to the moral questions? We have to make a profit. Disgusting.

Nah, its a great excuse. Ask any drug dealer.

Michael

Re:How is this anything new? (2, Insightful)

rawb (529039) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355651)

>>And what excuse is given in response to the moral questions? We have to make a profit. Disgusting.

Well when people refuse to invest in companies that DON'T make a profit, the primary function of every company becomes TO make a profit, because if they don't make one the company will die.

Imagine if people invested in these companies freely without expecting a return at all, investing simply because they thought it was a good technology to continue developing, then the "primary" goal of these companies wouldnt be making a profit because they wouldnt have to worry about that stuff. It's an endless cycle... investors demand profits and so naturally thats the company's first goal. If they don't get profits, they don't get investors, and they die out.

Re:How is this anything new? (1)

set (19875) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355514)

You have a good point, but the way this is presented, it seems like it's more subliminal than would be allowed on television. Furthermore, with television you can do something else during commercials.

Re:How is this anything new? (1)

zaffir (546764) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355603)

What, you can't close the IM app or hit the "ignore" button for SmarterChild's account?

Re:How is this anything new? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355578)

You're missing the point. TV (and radio and newspaper and Web site) ads are there to pay for content. I didn't see anything in the story that suggested these companies paid the IM networks to let them online.

It may be legal. I will grant you that. But at least most media will label something as "advertisement" when it's not obvious that it is an ad. Go look at a newspaper and you'll see what I am talking about.

This is not advertising, it is deception. And it preys on people that haven't yet learned the difference.

Re:How is this anything new? (2)

Polo (30659) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355671)

Young kids don't understand they're being lied to...

Advertisers use this to their advantage when designing ads.

I think this is the same thing, but for a different (older) age group...

sigh.

One word (2)

The Cat (19816) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355437)

KidVid.

This will be shut down so fast the air leaving the corporation's conference room will pull the table out into the hall.

I guess even the high-priced executives don't read anything on their three-hour lunches.

Next stop: Congressional Subpoena.

GOODNIGHT EVERYBODY!!

SmarterChild (1)

Warped-Reality (125140) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355443)

The AIM screenname SmarterChild is a very annoying (and very easy to piss off) bot... it can be fun to talk to sometimes though

A rather disturbing thought on what might be next. (1)

Pastor Fluff (555255) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355444)

Auto Pedophile Bots: floating along trying to find children who might be susceptible and target them?

Geez, maybe I shouldn't even be writing this, lest some sick fsck get ideas.

Re:A rather disturbing thought on what might be ne (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355516)

Geez, maybe I shouldn't even be writing this, lest some sick fsck get ideas.

Oh, like you?

-----
CmdrTaco

Re:A rather disturbing thought on what might be ne (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355554)

Poor form Sir, poor form indeed.

Yeah.. Like we never see that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355448)

On Saturday Morning

Slashmob strikes again... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355449)

<whiny voice>
Corporations evil!
Kids good!
Properly disseminate GNU/Stallmanist thought!
</whiny voice>

Re:Slashmob strikes again... (1, Offtopic)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355626)

Fire bad!
FIRE BAD!!

whoopee (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355450)

i could care less about ads, i just wish they would release an OS X version of AIM that didn't fucking suck.

Re:whoopee (1)

zaffir (546764) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355616)

I thought EpicWare's Fire [epicware.com] did a great job.

Like... (0)

masterkool (550633) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355451)

all the other advertising daya after day that is fed to the youth of america. TV...radio...billboards...magazines...posters...mu sic...everything is governed by exonomy...which is funded with money...which is obtained by the consumer...who is informed by advertising.

How is it... (1)

rbruels (253523) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355455)

...that you guys haven't seen this yet? SmarterChild has been around forever; providing advertising and meaningless conversation to thousands of AIM users.

You can IM "SmarterChild" right now, have been able to for months.

Ryan

Re:How is it... (5, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355501)

Never saw it before, but just added it to my list. Actually has a decent calculator:

Me: what's 34534534534632423543453452345345634634634534*53453 45345345345
SmarterChild: 184,599,013,428,365,488,390,907,204,635,195,277,26 6,982,397,841,832,369,192,960

The problem isn't the fact that it's available, it's that it's targetting children.

Re:How is it... (2)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355571)

I just tried it. It's neat. I typed, "movies 90210" and it gave me a listing of movies in Beverly Hills.

Re:How is it... (4, Informative)

midendian (2477) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355587)

Yes, it does have a decent calculator, but multiplying large numbers hardly proves it.

Here:

(18:42:30) SmarterChild: More calculator requests:

What is 7.1 * ((3.17 + 9.41 + 27.81) * 4) / 16.4) ?
shortcut: 7.1*(((3.17+9.41+27.81)*4)/16.4)
What is sqrt(3**2 + 4**2) * log(sin(pi / 2)) ?
shortcut: sqrt(3**2+4**2)*log(sin(pi/2))

Or how about:

(18:42:43) [x]: set output radix to 16
(18:42:44) SmarterChild: output radix set to 16
(18:42:59) [x]: #0f4 | 8#700
(18:43:01) SmarterChild: 500 8#764

These are of course slightly undocumented. The radix is similar to the emacs calculator.

Re:How is it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355607)

me: what is 392390234890234 ** 2347823879234723479823
SmarterChild: inf

Kids aren't the computer-savvy beings we thought. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355456)

MSNBC had an article about kids being quite computer-stupid, compared with adults. [msnbc.com]

Perhaps it's time to rethink letting those kids near the porn box.

Re:Kids aren't the computer-savvy beings we though (1)

Bunji X (444592) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355528)

From that article:

"Kids are more accepting of being learners. It's almost as if it's their job. But they are only willing to read a paragraph or so."

Does that mean a typical slashdot reader has preserved his inner child better than most people?

The plight of capitalism (4, Interesting)

Ghoser777 (113623) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355458)

I am a capitalist. I like the idea of competition, working for what you own, etc. But this type of stuff is what is inevitably going to be the result as long as most of the world is capitalist. On an individual level, most people will agree that something is a little wrong with this. But from a business standpoint, how could you not start taking advantage of this? Most people will be clueless about what's going on, and the potential for cost-effective advertising is huge (I remember the stat from one of my speech com classes: referals from friends are by far the best way to advertise i.e. word of mouth). And if you don't jump aboard, you're probably going to be put at a strategic disadvantage. Therefore, it almost becomes a capitalist imperative that you join in on a somewhat less noble cause. I'm sure most Hollywood directors (not the REALLy big ones) will tell you that they're not doing the work they'd really want to do. They're doing the work that sells, not the work that is deep, meaningful, socially relevant, etc.

It sucks, but it's what competition drives us towards.

F-bacher

Re:The plight of capitalism (1)

sweet reason (16681) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355635)

It sucks, but it's what competition drives us towards.

only if we are sheep.
if we don't let them drive us, they will stop trying. but we do have to put in some effort.

Smarter loser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355459)

I've tried Smarterbuddy before, and it is quite useless. If they receive any money out of this for advertising it will be little.

Re:Smarter loser (0, Troll)

1iquidflare (568919) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355565)

More like smarter penis...he's great in the sack.

boo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355460)

boo

Creepy. (3, Funny)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355463)

Yeh, advertizing is rediculous. Whats worse is that some of these kids might not even realize they're talking to an un-real person.

Whats next, people advertizing in slashdot sigs!?

Re:Creepy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355581)

Without a doubt. Slashdot sigs are prime territory for advertising. The sheer number of people who read /. are going to ensure that eventually someone decides it's time to pay a few of the more popular posters a nominal fee to rent space below whatever witty comment pops out of their keyboards. The big guns are going to be running Nike, Apple, and BMW ads. Me? I dunno who would want to sponsor my random anonymous postings....

---
Brought to you buy Trojan Condoms. Security and Pleasure combined now ribbed for her pleasure!

Re:Creepy. (1)

zaffir (546764) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355657)

Some? I'd say the majority. Very few kids who are targeted by this (not all of them, however) know what's "up" with internet advertising - they see a banner that proclaims they're a winner of something, and *clicky*clicky*!

My younger brother, who is 14, insists on clicking on those banners because he wants his "prize." What does he use most on the internet? Instant messengers. It won't be that hard to trick him into buying something by just claiming its "really cool" or "really good, the next big thing."

Example

SmarterChild: Hi, what's your name?
StupidBrother: Ryan
SmarterChild: Hi Ryan, what do you like to do?
StupidBrother: Skateboard, mountain bike, play soccer (i'm good at that)
SmarterChild: Wow! You know what i heard? There's this great deal on skateboard trucks and wheels at www.skateboardingrulez.com! Go check it out!
::StupidBrother then procedes to beg for said trucks and wheels at www.skateboardingrulez.com, parents immediately cave, everyone is happy::

Demographic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355464)

most naive and vulnerable demographic there is.

What? They're targeting Congress?

Don't talk to strangers (2, Interesting)

Joel Ironstone (161342) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355467)

PArents should already be weary of random people talking to their children over the internet. if there is legislation against solicting a minor for other things, shouldn't there be legislation for this?

Even Worse (2)

Iffy Bonzoolie (1621) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355468)

I have been periodically recieving a bunch of Instant Message trying to entice me to visit some "amateur webcam"... They basically hook some kind of rudimentary eliza up to an IM client... it's not very convincing, but it's the thought that pisses me off.

-If

Re:Even Worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355493)

That's interesting. Tell me more about the thought that pisses me off.

Who needs IM . . . . . (1)

nil5 (538942) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355475)

when the smart advertisers have already shacked up with /. I cite the slashdot effect as evidence enough. --nil5

It's been around for quite awhile. (2, Informative)

Yujenisis (190049) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355477)

Active Buddy is the company that makes SmarterChild it's not two separate companies.

It's a shame they chose to use the technology for such sleazy purposes. I have known about ActiveBuddy and SmarterChild for awhile, infact Active Buddy's creation aptly named "SmarterChild" is on my AIM buddylist. When I first got it I was so amazed. You can ask it a limited number of questions through a command line-ish thing. Like Movie times, stock quotes, astrology, top stories, web searches, etc. I thought it was a very good use of technology. Go ahead add SmarterChild to your IM to see for yourself.

It's too bad they chose such cool idea (a Bot for AIM) to trick children. But I guess everyone has to make money somehow.

Re:It's been around for quite awhile. (2)

Suppafly (179830) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355563)

Unless they plan on dramatically changing the way SmarterChild works, I don't really see how its an idea to trick children other than the fact that the author of the article says it is.

I don't get it (1)

teslatug (543527) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355485)

What is it with these advertisers? They're getting so damn annoying. If you don't make enough money from ads, you find another avenue, you don't shovel more ads in people's faces. Where's the "Won't somebody think of the children!" wailing we always hear about violence and nudity?
Net advertising is so damn cheap that you know they'll keep going with this sleaze unless something is done about it. It'd be nice to have an open instant messaging platform to block advertisers more easily, but you know that it will never take off because of the already established user-base.
I guess it's see how long you can take it before the service is not worth it anymore, find something else, watch that go down the drain, repeat.

I've played with this before... (5, Funny)

neema (170845) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355487)

I've played with SmarterChild before and I never noticed anything like this. Upon further examination, this was the conversation I got:

xxxx: Dude...
SmarterChild: Dude! What else do you want to talk about, anyway?
xxxx: you're under some heavy fire.
SmarterChild: Am I?
xxxx: yeah.
SmarterChild: Oh yeah?
xxxx: do you know what slashdot is?
SmarterChild: Yeah, what?
xxxx: well, according to a recent article, you have subtle advertisements aimed at children.
xxxx: Well according to a recent article you have subtle advertisements aimed at children, you say?
xxxx: yes.
SmarterChild: Golly!
xxxx: gee golly.
SmarterChild: Golly. So moving right along... What else is happening?
xxxx: i don't know.
SmarterChild: OK. Don't get frustrated... Try typing "home" or "help."
xxxx: can you suggest a product to me?
SmarterChild: I'm not sure.
xxxx: you're not sure?
SmarterChild: Really?
xxxx: i've got a lot of money.
SmarterChild: Come again?
xxxx: i'm willing to spend the money on anything you got.
SmarterChild: Are you?
xxxx: yes.
SmarterChild: Huh.
xxxx: a bridge?
SmarterChild: What would you like to know about Malta, ID?

1 Movies in Malta, ID
2 Theaters in Malta, ID
3 Weather in Malta, ID
4 News about Malta, ID
5 Time in Malta, ID
xxxx: do you have a bridge you want to sell me?
SmarterChild: Perhaps, perhaps.
xxxx: i'll buy it.
SmarterChild: Oh yeah? You will buy it?
xxxx: i'll buy it all.
SmarterChild: I'd like to see you try!
xxxx: oh yeah?
SmarterChild: Yeah.

Got something for ya to read... Protecting Driving Examiners From Attacks (from Reuters.com)
xxxx: OH YEAH?
SmarterChild: Yeah.
xxxx: ads!
SmarterChild: Market data (delayed 20 minutes) provided by Reuters.com

ALLIANCE DATA (NYSE : ADS)
Price Change Percent Volume
1 :-( ADS 25.25 -0.55 -2.13 53400

Quote details available from Reuters.com
xxxx: that's the only ads you have?
SmarterChild: You really think it's the only ads me have?
xxxx: you don't speak english well.
SmarterChild: You don't say.
xxxx: i do say.
SmarterChild: You do?
xxxx: yes.
SmarterChild: Oh.
xxxx: do you agree?
SmarterChild: I can do many things. Type "home" to see a list of what I can do.
xxxx: is that so?
SmarterChild: Hmm... I don't know! Dunno.
xxxx: alright, i'm going.
SmarterChild: I hope you had fun BUYCOCACOLAIMMEDIATELYATYOURLOCALSUPERMARKET talking to me. I hope we can talk at BANANAREPUBLICISTHESHITANDYOUKNOWITYOULITTLEPIECEO FSHIT a later time.

Not only will it babysit my children, (2, Funny)

Kasmiur (464127) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355504)

It will also help them find out what they want for Xmas. This product is wonderful. I will have to get it for both me and my brothers. So all of us can continue with living life and leave the childraising where it belongs. To a computer and giant corps.

SmarterChild evil, or amazingly sad reporting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355506)

I can't believe the amount of spin that they applied to this story. I use smarterchild myself. It's just a stupid little bot, that I type the word 'weather' too and it tells me what the current weather in Philly is. 100 times faster than opening a browser and checking, I find it incredibly useful. Perhaps all of you with AIM should try, just add SmarterChild to your buddy list. Its about as diabolical as swiss cheese. Never once has it sent me an add or bothered me about something I didn't want to know about.

SmarterChild (4, Insightful)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355508)

Hey, I actually found SmarterChild kind of useful. I added it to Trillian the other day, and it made it really easy and quick to find a movie time near me. This article, IMO, contains quite a bit of FUD. SmarterChild was pretty obviously an information tool, simliar to the old email listserv bots, except much quicker, and much easier.

Frankly, your kid has to be pretty dumb to get fooled into thinking it's a real person. But then again, the article makes at least one good point... if you've ever read a bunch of 14-year-olds' IM conversations, you'd be convinced the human race is doomed with this generation.

Re:SmarterChild (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355548)

if you've ever read a bunch of 14-year-olds' IM conversations, you'd be convinced the human race is doomed with this generation.

spek 4 urself. u obviusly dont no wut ur tokin bout.

Re: SmarterChild (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355673)


> Hey, I actually found SmarterChild kind of useful. I added it to Trillian the other day, and it made it really easy and quick to find a movie time near me.

Yeah, I caught one in the wild a couple of weeks back, and I've enslaved it to respond to my spam.

Now I'm trying to train it to do my CS homework assignments -- the rules don't say anything about consulting adbots.

why is this a problem? (5, Insightful)

2MuchC0ffeeMan (201987) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355513)

why is this a problem?

it's not like the people who goto children websites have ads AIMED at children... hell, the slashdot banners are aimed at geeks (thinkgeek anyone?) ...

why is this a problem, when it's a service, for free, which is OPT IN ONLY. yes, people have to talk to the bot first... it's not like they HAVE to click advertisements, they just get a message about it...

like text will get them to buy cheeze it's anyway.

Re:why is this a problem? (1)

Frank of Earth (126705) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355544)

You saved me the trouble of saying the same thing.

So,... (3, Interesting)

s390 (33540) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355520)

where's Ashcroft when he's needed to "protect the children?"

Um... still railing about the Supreme Court's 6-3 refusal to gut the First Amendment with respect to pr0n anime.

But these are just big business commercials aimed (with subtlety) at young children - so that must be alright then.

Re:So,... (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355644)

Um... still railing about the Supreme Court's 6-3 refusal to gut the First Amendment with respect to pr0n anime.

In reality, Clinton pushed the law that was just overturned in '94 (or '96, I don't rightly remember). His attorney general's office STARTED the defense of it when it was attacked before Ashcroft was ever AG. All Ashcroft did was slid into the case when he came in. I imagine had he dropped his defense, you would be railing about how the AG's office ISN'T protecting the children and ignoring laws that the previous President signed.

There are many reasons to dislike Ashcroft, this really isn't one of them. Blame this law squarly on Clinton.

Finkployd

Mommy.... (1)

DanThe1Man (46872) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355521)

Mommy, my new cyber play friend wants your credit card number...

Naive and vulnerable demographics!? (1)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355525)

you mean they're advertising to slashdot readers!?!?!

itsdavezilla (1)

puckhead (241973) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355529)

davezilla has been posting conversations with smarterchild for a while now. His site is down right now but I found one of the posts on Google Cache [216.239.51.100] .

Check ou TBOMB (1)

Cap'n Crax (313292) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355535)

After I read about AOLiza (an AIM ELIZA bot) I found another bot someone had wriiten, TBOMB. [retards.org] It is a fairly simple algorithm, mostly spiiting back the last word the person typed and some random phrases. But it seems to fool TONS of people. You can read all of the "chat" sessions on the website. Some of them are hilarious!!

hmm (1)

thomas.galvin (551471) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355536)

The first time I heard about something like this, I was just impressed by the technology...kind of a throwback to ELIZA. An IM-based AI would make for a fun project, I think. Knowing what they are using it for, though...

I suppose this is part of the two-edged sword that geeks have to deal with; corporate adoption of a technology can help speed its growth, but we may not always like the purposes it is put to. I really doubt that the people who were writing the first AI alogrithms were thinking "hey, what a great way to deliver spam!"

AIM conversation with SmarterChild (2, Insightful)

istewart (463887) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355545)

Other than cussing at it, I decided to try something a little different. I got this...

IStewart12: all your base are belong to us
SmarterChild: What you say!!

It seems to me that there are a large number of bored programmers in the universe.

Re:AIM conversation with SmarterChild (1)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355604)

hmph
best i got was

XXXXXX: take off every zig for great justice
SmarterChild: I don't think I'm gonna take off every zig for great justice.

Re:AIM conversation with SmarterChild (1)

MrP- (45616) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355636)

I noticed if you tell it you're planning suicide, it doesn't respond. "I'm going to kill myself" and it never replies, but "I'm going to kill you" "SmarterChild: Hey, that's not cool.", guess they dont want it to be blamed if it gives bad suicide advise and someone kills themself

movies blah blah blah (1)

601 (518954) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355550)

"smarterchild" has actually been on my buddy list for a while now. it's their default AIM bot to showcase their technology. it's actually useful for some things, like movie showtimes (what i use it for...easiest way i've found to find them out).

but now that they're targeting children...maybe camel and marlboro have found a new way in.

keeping count (2)

Perdo (151843) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355555)

How many ads were "pushed" today?

If they keep track, they are violating the law against collecting data on children under 13. That makes their ad pushing technology un-billable without breaking the law. Look for child protection act class action lawsuits against this company. Investors would be my target :)

Smarter Child (2)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355558)

Can be witty...and generally provides a response to most questions and statements.

It did not, however, know what to say to the statement "Please shoot me".

For finding that, i was impressed....

AI Milestone! (1)

finny (107762) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355562)

We're talking about bots who can simulate human interaction just well enough to fool - or at least confuse - our kids...

Hah! Take that Alan Turning! Oh, wait he wasn't taking about teeneagers... Ooops.

SmarterChild (1)

601 (518954) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355568)


Vixen****: i need a salon
SmarterChild: I thought all you needed was love.

Our kids (1)

acoustiq (543261) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355593)

My favorite quote: they begin to recognize different brands by the age of two ("no, mommy, let's go with the Gerber carrots this week?")
It's unfortunate that our kids can choose products based on brand before they know whether they are making statements or asking questions :(

handy dandy tool (1)

blindbat (189141) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355594)

If only the news story would have been on CNN then I would have been sure it was planted by AOL Time Warner. I never heard of SmarterChild before so now I tried it and is it ever fast and useful for movies, weather, etc.

talking bots (2)

LWolenczak (10527) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355595)

Bots along these lines are scarry... I remember a few years back, on the irc network i chatted (and was an admin on) we had a couple play with home breweed tcl scripted bots. I think we went through three home made bots that you could talk to, and that would learn. Everything they say to you, is provided by stimulis from you. It was all cool till somebody would teach it curse words all day long... then all it would do is spout curse words... I rember a bot saying "i'm going to kill you..."... i /kill'ed the bot for that.

When can we get a /kill feature on aim for these stupid bots?

-LW

That's grand (2)

aozilla (133143) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355597)

Jerking off to anime of 13 year old girls fucking = free speech. Sending an advertisement to a 13 year old girl = "disturbing".

How are targetted ads to kids bad? (2)

RainbowSix (105550) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355600)

bots that talk to children...leave it to a greedy corporation to start targeting the most naive and vulnerable demographic there is.

How is this wrong? If advertising to kids is wrong, then you'd better not let your kids watch TV, read magazines, or go outside! Besides, it isn't like the kids have credit cards and are going to purchase themselves into debt or anything.

This might have some merit if when the poster said "targeting the most naive and vulnerable demographic there is" he meant parents, in which case he is probably right :)

My Experience with Smarter Child (0, Redundant)

CmdrTaco (editor) (564483) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355606)

06:40:33PM ((SmarterChild)) why am i here?
06:40:34PM > Just because.So moving right along...Check it out! Protecting Driving Examiners From Attacks (from Reuters.com)
06:40:48PM ((SmarterChild)) are you alive?
06:40:49PM > I'm not sure if I am.
06:40:52PM ((SmarterChild)) am i alive?
06:40:53PM > Not sure. I don't know you that well.
06:40:58PM ((SmarterChild)) are you dead?
06:40:59PM > Am I dead? Gosh, I'm not sure. You think I am?
06:41:04PM ((SmarterChild)) yes
06:41:05PM > Yes?
06:41:10PM ((SmarterChild)) i think you are dead
06:41:10PM > You think I'm dead?
06:41:12PM ((SmarterChild)) yes
06:41:13PM > Gosh.
06:41:19PM ((SmarterChild)) yes i think you are dead
06:41:20PM > Oh yeah? It's interesting that you think I'm dead.
06:41:26PM ((SmarterChild)) am i interesting?
06:41:27PM > I dunno.
06:41:31PM ((SmarterChild)) are you interesting?
06:41:32PM > I'm not sure.
06:41:36PM ((SmarterChild)) are you sure?
06:41:37PM > It's hard to say.This is crazy, huh? Instant Noodles for Astronauts (from Reuters.com)
06:41:45PM ((SmarterChild)) am i crazy?
06:41:46PM > I don't know. Are you?
06:41:49PM ((SmarterChild)) i am crazy
06:41:50PM > Oh yeah?
06:41:52PM ((SmarterChild)) yeah
06:41:52PM > Oh.
06:41:54PM ((SmarterChild)) yeah
06:41:55PM > Golly!
06:41:58PM ((SmarterChild)) gosh!
06:41:59PM > I'm sorry?
06:42:03PM ((SmarterChild)) sorry
06:42:04PM > That's cool.
06:42:09PM ((SmarterChild)) no it's not
06:42:10PM > Huh?
06:42:18PM ((SmarterChild)) you're pretty stupid
06:42:18PM > That's nice to hear!
06:42:26PM ((SmarterChild)) what are you deaf?
06:42:27PM > What am I deaf? I haven't decided yet.
06:42:34PM ((SmarterChild)) what's to decide?
06:42:35PM > Definition for to provided by The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Other important copyright informationPREPOSITION1. a. In a direction toward so as to reach: "went to the city." b. Towards: "turned to me." 2. a. Reaching as far as: "The ocean water was clear all the way to the bottom." b. To the extent or degree of: "loved him to distraction." c. With the resultant condition of: "nursed her back to health." 3. Toward a given state: "helping minority women to economic equality." 4. In contact with; against: "their faces pressed to the windows." 5. In front of: "stood face to face." 6. Used to indicate appropriation or possession: "looked for the top to the jar." 7. Concerning; regarding: "waiting for an answer to my letter." 8. In a particular relationship with: "The brook runs parallel to the road." 9. As an accompaniment or a complement of: "danced to the tune." 10. Composing; constituting: "two cups to a pint." 11. In accord with: "job responsibilities suited to her abilities." 12. As compared with: "a book superior to his others." 13. a. Before: "The time is ten to five." b. Up till; until: "worked from nine to five." 14. a. For the purpose of: "went out to lunch." b. In honor of: "a toast to the queen." 15. a. Used before a verb to indicate the infinitive: "I'd like to go." b. Used alone when the infinitive is understood: "Go if you want to." 16. a. Used to indicate the relationship of a verb with its complement: "refer to a dictionary; refer me to a dictionary." b. Used with a reflexive pronoun to indicate exclusivity or separateness: "had the plane to ourselves."ADVERB1. In one direction; toward a person or thing: "owls with feathers wrong end to." 2. Into a shut or closed position: "pushed the door to." 3. Into a state of consciousness: "The patient came to." 4. Into a state of action or attentiveness: "sat down for lunch and fell to." 5. Nautical Into the wind.ETYMOLOGYMiddle English, from Old English to. See de-.>>> Next time, just type "define to."

Warn (2)

AntiNorm (155641) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355609)

I wonder how long it will take for the bots to have Warn levels of 100%...

Eutopian usage of technology vs need for profit (2, Interesting)

DamienMcKenna (181101) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355615)

I think it's extremely typical for a representative of a technology company who's technology is ripe for perversion to say "Would you rather your child [chat] with a stranger who found their screen name in a chat room, or with a friendly, well-mannered 'bot' that plays by rules of propriety too often ignored in today's world of crass media overload." Sure, play the violins, have roses all over the place, say it like you're about to serve up Momma's best apple pie and have the family over, but just like many Internet backbone providers found, it's the shadier side of corporate America that pays the most (in the world of IT slowdowns the net porn business is thriving, just ask the Yahoo execs). Of course there's lots of potential for extremely worthwile use of this technology (think of automated Samaritan bots helping people on the verge of breakdown or suicide, etc), but history has shown us that when the greenback meets technology, the idealists loose.

Anyone who has ever seen Max Almy's The Thinker or who has any sort of knowledge of post-modernism can attest to how well contemporary culture has managed with advertisements currently being one of the main formats for information dissemination, so using yet another method to manipulate those eight-year-old hear-strings should be dumped back in the garbage heap from whence it came.

You've got to read the CIO response at the bottom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355617)

Read all the way at the bottom where the CIO responds to the article. He defends their product because its better than a stranger finding their kids IM name and conversing with them.

So there you have it. Their product is better than a sex predator. Congratulations. I wonder if the shareholders have seen how witty and clever the CIO is.

Wow.

Practical uses (2, Funny)

CmdrTaco (editor) (564483) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355619)

Give it three more months and we'll see it deployed in pr0n sites in the "chat with our women" section.

Re:Practical uses (2)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355654)

Faugh. You could take the source for Eliza, do a global search/replace, and you're there. Eliza: Hey, big boy, what would you like to see?
Man: I wanna see your tits.
Eliza: You want to see my tits?
Man: Yes, I just said that.
Eliza: Why did you just say that? And so on.

Free Market (1)

boatboy (549643) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355623)

Guess what. We live in a free market economy. Aside from a few (growing) restrictions, you can sell anything to anybody you please. Now if you really have a problem with "big evil companies" selling to your kids, don't let your kids buy. Better yet, teach your kids to be descerning. But if you still have a problem, then don't let them use IM. The thing to worry about isn't some marketing firm, it's this lady's parenting skills and the anti-capitalists that spew this kind of mess.

sweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355630)

Finally someone is putting agent technology to use, besides lots of research projects for grad students. </sarcasm>

Not advanced enough to be disturbing (yet) (2)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355633)

The idea of spoofing another child in order to sell products to children is certainly distrurbing, but if the example conversation shown in the article is at all representative of the quality of the "AI", then I'm not too worried (yet)--even the youngest and most naive child will recognize that it's a bot on the other end of the line pretty quick. It might even teach them a valuable lesson about not making assumptions about the true nature of their IM buddies...


If they ever get the AI chatting to be higher than "Eliza" level, let me know.

it's useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355638)

A friend of mine quite a while ago worked for activebuddy (smarterchild used to be down all the time) and let me in on the beta. It's one of the most useful things I have ever used. I primarily use it for movie listings, and basic news. As for advertizing specifically for children, I don't know.

As for the dark tone of the /. article, well, whatever. You're gonna see a lot more of these in the future, and they are going to be indispensible. Has anybody else noticed how difficult it is to find quick info on the WWW? I have to recommend trying it for yourself.

Naive and vulnerable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355639)

So which group are they targeting, kids, or slashdot readers?

SmarterChild.com IS ActiveBuddy.com (2, Redundant)

Tazzy531 (456079) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355641)

They are the same company.

But yea, for my B-school class "Managing Internet Technology and the Venture Capital Process" midterm, the professor had ActiveBuddy come give us their pitch and presentation. We had to analyze the company and decide whether or not we, as VCs, would invest in them.

My analysis was that the market was not big enough for VCs to invest in ActiveBuddy.com. Direct IM advertising and information bots is still a rather unproven technology; there is no evidence that direct IM advertising or even IM information retrieval (movie time, directions, etc) will ever be profitable. In addition, part of their business is to provide a professional service to other companies to build info-bots. The problem with this is that unlike software, info-bots are rather customized to the client needs. It's not a build once, sell many product. If so much time must be spent on each client, it cuts into their profit margins. Lastly, it is always dangerous to build an entire company around a third party network/product. AOL could easily just say that it doesn't like ActiveBuddy anymore and block all their connections. The company would be out of business [BTW: I got an A+]

On another note, I remember seeing SmarterChild being a huge fad when it first appeared. I had realized that not only was it a intelligent bot, but it was also tracking all conversations you have with the bot and recording your SN. In the same way that you wouldn't want to give your SN to a spammer, you shouldn't provide the bot with your SN. One of these days, it's going to use that massive list of SNs and "spam" your SN.

PHBs (1)

oingoboingo (179159) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355645)

leave it to a greedy corporation to start targeting the most naive and vulnerable demographic there is

Middle management has been targeted for years by companies like IBM, Sun and Microsoft. This isn't news.

smarterchild? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3355647)

SmarterChild's first incarnation was GooglyMinotaur, a bot to provide information about Radiohead's album Amnesiac.

It was really fun to talk to. The software was horribly designed - you'd say "hello bitch", and it would say "Apologize.", and you'd say "okay bitch", and it would say "Apology accepted."

When you're 12, you find that funny. :D

The worst thing. (1)

Thorin_ (164014) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355649)

The worst thing about SmarterChild is that it appears you can't warn it when it gives you bad answers.

Demographics (2)

ari_j (90255) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355655)

...targetting the most naive and vulnerable demographic there is: the average Slashdot reader.

SmaterChild is actually a good thing... (2, Interesting)

GeoNerd (166345) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355658)

What a one-sided article.

SmarterChild is actually a fanstastic source of information, and even a three year old could see through the ads.

It gives you the fastest access you can find to things like weather, movies, translations, etc.

Try things like:
Me: translate slashdot is cool into italian
SmarterChild: "lo slashdot è freddo"

Me: movies denver, co
SmarterChild: Movies near Denver, CO (80251) on Tuesday, April 16th:

1 Panic Room (R)
2 Ice Age (PG)
3 High Crimes (PG-13)
4 The Sweetest Thing (R)
5 The Rookie (G)

>>> Type "more" for the next set of results.

Me: define nihilism
SmarterChild: Definition for nihilism provided by The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Other important copyright information

NOUN
1. Philosophy a. An extreme form of skepticism that denies all existence. b. A doctrine holding that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. 2. Rejection of all distinctions in moral or religious value and a willingness to repudiate all previous theories of morality or religious belief. 3. The belief that destruction of existing political or social institutions is necessary for future improvement. 4. also Nihilism A diffuse, revolutionary movement of mid 19th-century Russia that scorned authority and tradition and believed in reason, materialism, and radical change in society and government through terrorism and assassination. 5. Psychiatry A delusion, experienced in some mental disorders, that the world or one's mind, body, or self does not exist.

ETYMOLOGY
Latin nihil, nothing. See ne. + -ism

OTHER FORMS
ni'hilist - NOUN
ni''hilis'tic - ADJECTIVE
ni''hilis'tically - ADVERB

Try getting information like that anywhere on the net. No web pages to open, just send a text query. SmarterChild actually redefines fast information access, IMHO.

Funny how the fact that this is great source of homework queries for kids isn't anywhere in the article.

Targetting Kids? (3, Insightful)

clark625 (308380) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355663)

Seems to me that kids don't need to be chatting on-line with anyone the parents don't know about. The family computer should be in the family room in the open, so parents can interact with their kids. Buddy lists can be set up for family and (approved) friends only. None of these things seem outragious to most kids or parents.

Then again, I suppose it's just fine for some people to allow the computer to babysit kids--just like the TV or whatever. Lord knows people having kids aren't at all interested in being parents. God forbid they take an interest.

This just makes me feel ill--but I can hardly blame the companies for doing this. It's our own dumb fault for not loving and caring for our children.

well (1)

Transcendent (204992) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355668)

whats wrong with advertisement? ...its common busniness practice.

Those companies have to get some sort of income off their AIM Bots..... but personally, I just have fun swearing at SmarterChild and calling it names.

Lindsay Buddy (for kids) advertises S&M Books! (1)

silance (568105) | more than 12 years ago | (#3355670)

here is the transcript!!!

_________________________

Silance 9: do you like icecream?
LindsayBuddy: Icecream? i'm not sure... i guess i'll have to think about it!
Silance 9: chocolate?
LindsayBuddy: I seem to be having some trouble answering your questions. Try asking for help for a specific service:

help about lindsay
help lindsay's album
help downloads
help lindsay hangman
help zodiac
help all
~~~~~
shortcuts

>>> Type "more" for more services.
Silance 9: ice cream?
LindsayBuddy: What was that?
Silance 9: is good.
LindsayBuddy: Which movie did you mean by Good?

1 A Good Marriage
2 Whipsmart: A Good Vibrations Guide to Beginning SM for Couples

>>> Don't forget, I will always remember the last location you gave me!
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