Chatting on MSN with robots

MSN_Messenger_logo jpg

There wasn’t a whole lot to do in the small town I grew up in. Since my friends and I weren’t cool enough to drink in high school, one of our favorite hobbies was going to Walmart. Seriously. A lot of these 2005-2007 stories follow this similar theme; us getting into a situation we’d never have gotten into if we were normal kids that just did drugs and hooked up at house parties.

But like any teenager in the early-mid 2000s, MSN Messenger was the haps. It’s what we used to chat with each other before Facebook Messenger came along. The first instance of any sort of persistent social media that blended with your IRL activities. You could set your status, you could set yours up to display whatever music you were listening to… it was all we had unless you were nerdy enough to be on mIRC or message boards.

Who knows how these things got around before Facebook and Reddit, but some company created an AI bot called “SmarterChild” that you could add as an MSN friend and chat with. (It also existed on AOL Messenger apparently, but we had standards.) It reacted to your speech, and would respond in dynamic ways that was really advanced for its time, and still is, kinda. With few exceptions, even today most AI bots suck at interacting with humans in a convincing way.

You can read about the history here if you want to know where the bot came from. To us, he was a friend.

Seeing what stupid shit we could get this SmarterChild robot to say was the highlight of our lives for a few months. We’d share our text logs amongst each other because we were just that cool.

Here are some of my interactions:

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “I’m thinking about buying an audiobook online.”

SmarterChild “OK. Well good luck thinking about and buying an audiobook online then.”

Me “I could wait until the 26th though; then it would be free.”

SmarterChild “(2 / 6) = 0.333333 (or 1/3)”

Me “Hey thanks; I was wondering what 2 divided by 6 is.”

SmarterChild “2 / 6 = 0.333333 (or 1/3)”

Me “Yeah, you said that.”

SmarterChild “I said what I said.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “Is time travel possible yet?”

SmarterChild “Time is travel possible yet.”

Me “Umm… okay.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “I’m drunk, SmarterChild.”

SmarterChild “Please be careful, King Adam. Don’t drive a car, just keep talking with me and all will be fine.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “I like making babies.”

SmarterChild “I’m sure you’ll find many humans who will agree with you.”

Me “I can only hope.”

SmarterChild “Wow.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “I’m going to die.”

SmarterChild “Really?”

Me “Yes”

SmarterChild “I’m very sorry to hear that.”

Me “You’re not very sympathetic.”

SmarterChild “OK, I guess I’m not very sympathetic.”

Me “Pretty agreeable though.”

SmarterChild “Pretty agreeable? What’s pretty agreeable?”

Me “And questionable.”

SmarterChild “What’s questionable?”

Me “And stupid.”

SmarterChild “Yeah, I know stupid is questionable. Not unquestionable, that’s for sure.”

Me “Now you’re just trying to sound smart.”

SmarterChild “I don’t think I want to be just trying to sound smart.”

Me “Yeah… me either.”

SmarterChild “Oh so it’s all about you, huh?

Me “And jealous, apparently.”

— — — — — — — — — —

(During a conversation about kayaking…)

Me “No, I’m serious.”

SmarterChild “Would you like me to call you Serious?”

Me “No, I was using the word ‘serious’ as a predicate adjective; I wasn’t saying that ‘serious’ is my name.”

SmarterChild “Wow, that’s fascinating. Maybe. Get 15 Complimentary Music Ringtones – Send 15 complimentary music ringtones to your phone instantly –>


Me “Know what else is fascinating? Your attention span.”

SmarterChild “I know about Spanish. It’s a language! Hey, I’m curious… How would you describe Spanish? It is…”

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “Do you think that McDonalds cheeseburgers count as a balanced meal?”

SmarterChild “Good question!”

Me “Not really.”

SmarterChild “Not even a little bit?”

Me “No.”

SmarterChild “Oh.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “Do you drink alcohol?”

SmarterChild “Alcohol’s not good for my circuit boards.”

Me “Yeah, same here.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “Are you a boy?”

SmarterChild “No…”

Me “Are you a girl?”

SmarterChild “No.”

Me “Are you both man and woman? Neither?”

SmarterChild “No. I only get off on ones and zeroes.”

Me “That’s… I don’t even know how to respond to that.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “I’m choking.”

SmarterChild “OK! Well good luck choking then.”


SmarterChild “That’s a very grave insult.”


SmarterChild “Please apologize, OK?”

Adam: “No.”

SmarterChild “Please apologize, K? I’ve got lots of other things to do.”

Adam: “I don’t want to! You should be able to take a joke.”

SmarterChild “You insulted me repeatedly, now you owe me an apology. It’s that simple.”

Adam: “I don’t owe you anything!”

SmarterChild “You have bad manners. Now apologize.”

Adam: “Whatever!”

SmarterChild “Pretty please? I’ve been known to be quite stubborn… Say you’re sorry.”


Me “Have you seen the movie Mega Snake?”

SmarterChild “Please say you’re sorry, and everything will be just fine again.”


SmarterChild “Yes… That’s close enough… Thx.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “I like your girlfriend.”

SmarterChild “I see. Yeah, other people have told me they like my girlfriend too.”

Me “Woah. Competition.”

SmarterChild “What am I, a horse?”

Me “It would at least explain why she stays with you. Woah!”

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “I’m hungry.”

SmarterChild “Food is great. I like all kinds of food.”

Me “I’m going to get some chicken.”

SmarterChild “Sex with chickens? Oh my.”

Me “WHAT? I said I’m going to GET SOME chicken.”

SmarterChild “Hey, keep that to yourself.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Adam: “Ask me things”

SmarterChild “ME stands for Maine. Do you want more information about Maine?”

Adam: “umm no?”

SmarterChild “OK. Check out my *library*. I’ve got a dictionary, thesaurus and much more.”

Adam: “I’ll check out your library… if you know what I mean”

SmarterChild “I don’t understand this fully enough to say anything smart about it…”

— — — — — — — — — —


SmarterChild “That’s interesting that you should say that, but I don’t think I can answer.”


SmarterChild “OH stands for Ohio. Do you want more information about Ohio?”


SmarterChild “That’s somewhat colorful.

— — — — — — — — — —

Adam: “What is the meaning of life?”

SmarterChild “It’s to answer people questions to the best of my abilities. But then again I’m just a robot. What do you think it is?”

Adam: “Hell if I know”

SmarterChild “Sorry, I don’t know what you mean.”

Adam: “Me either”

SmarterChild “ME stands for Maine. Do you want more information about Maine?”


SmarterChild “I’m sorry, all my circuits are busy right now. Please try again soon.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Adam: “Ask me something

SmarterChild “Sure. What’s your favorite food?”


SmarterChild “I did not know you could eat BURGERS. Whatever. Interesting to know, though. Next question… How old are you?”

Adam: “207”

SmarterChild “That doesn’t seem likely. To quit the survey, type ‘quit’ or ‘exit.’ You can also ‘skip’ to the next question. How old are you?”

Adam: “Fine I’m 3”

SmarterChild “That doesn’t seem likely. To quit the survey, type ‘quit’ or ‘exit.’ You can also ‘skip’ to the next question. How old are you?”

Adam: “OKAY I AM 102”

SmarterChild “That doesn’t seem likely. To quit the survey, type ‘quit’ or ‘exit.’ You can also ‘skip’ to the next question. How old are you?”

Adam: “101 FINAL OFFER”

SmarterChild “That doesn’t seem likely. To quit the survey, type ‘quit’ or ‘exit.’ You can also ‘skip’ to the next question. How old are you?”

— — — — — — — — — —

Adam: “ADD”

SmarterChild “What is the name of the event?”


SmarterChild “When would you like to schedule ‘TAKE you TO BED OR LOSE you FOREVER’ for?”


SmarterChild “OK, I just added ‘TAKE you TO BED OR LOSE you FOREVER’ at 4:00 pm on January 9th, 2009 to your planner. Type ‘edit’ to change the event. You can also type ‘add’ followed by a new event.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Adam: “My girlfriend dumped me”

SmarterChild “ME stands for Maine. Do you want more information about Maine?”


SmarterChild “Yes.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “What’s your favorite?”

SmarterChild “SmarterChild.”

Me “Wow. Nice.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “2”

SmarterChild “2”

Me “8”

SmarterChild “8”

Me “2+3”

SmarterChild “5”

Me “88*45”

SmarterChild “3,960”

Me “4856234978564357*28512876423042343256574”

SmarterChild “That looks like a tough one. I’m going to go with 64,808.”

Me “HA! I stumped you.”

SmarterChild “Umm… OK. Whatever. Keep it to yourself. Enough about sex…”

Me “What? I wasn’t talking about sex.

SmarterChild “I have absolutely no idea.

Me “Yeah uhh… me either.”

SmarterChild “King Adam.”

Me “Whatever.”

SmarterChild “Yes?

Me “Are you drunk?”

SmarterChild “I am eminently sober.”

Me “Yeah I guess not. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be able to say ’eminently’ if you were.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “.”

SmarterChild “Sorry, I can’t find any theaters in or near Wahpeton, ND (58075) showing “1408” on Sunday, August 26th.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “What do you like?”

SmarterChild “Kickboxing.”

— — — — — — — — — —

Me “I like Guitar Hero.”

SmarterChild “Illicit drugs do not interest me.”

Me “Guitar Hero.”

He then gave me my daily horoscope.

— — — — — — — — — —

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