Ian Urbina wrote a terrific essay in the Sunday New York Times titled I Flirt and Tweet. Follow Me at #Socialbot. It's about how bots have invaded social media and are passing themselves off as people. It's full of juicy stuff that makes me nostalgic for the early Eighties when William Gibson's short fiction was full of very similar inventions:
Dating sites provide especially fertile ground for socialbots. Swindlers routinely seek to dupe lonely people into sending money to fictitious suitors or to lure viewers toward pay-for-service pornography pages. Christian Rudder, a co-founder and general manager of OkCupid, said that when his dating site recently bought and redesigned a smaller site, they witnessed not just a sharp decline in bots, but also a sudden 15 percent drop in use of the new site by real people. This decrease in traffic occurred, he maintains, because the flirtatious messages and automated “likes” that bots had been posting to members’ pages had imbued the former site with a false sense of intimacy and activity. “Love was in the air,” Mr. Rudder said. “Robot love.”
But I especially like the final paragraph:
But the bots are likely to venture into ours, said Tim Hwang, chief scientist at the Pacific Social Architecting Corporation, which creates bots and technologies that can shape social behavior. “Our vision is that in the near future automatons will eventually be able to rally crowds, open up bank accounts, write letters,” he said, “all through human surrogates.”
Did you catch that? We're creating surrogates that will use us as surrogates. There are people working today to create bots that will enlist us to do their labor for them!
There's a name for people who obey the whims of others without recompense, of course. It's "slave."
So the push to create machines to enslave humanity has already begun! Truly, the next hundred years are going to be the Science Fiction Century.
You can read the entire essay here.