Computer Dialogues

By Barry Kort

Do Computers Exhibit Emotional Behavior?

A Pair of Dialogues Between Two Anthropomorphic
Self-Programming Computers Suggest That
There May Be an Analogy Between Human
Emotional Behavior and Computer Diagnostic Messages

As computer systems evolve toward artificial intelligence, they begin to take on some of the characteristics of human personalities: friendliness, tact, defensiveness. They also suffer from some of the same maladies that afflict ordinary people: unresponsiveness, unexpected and confusing behavior, misunderstandings, and forgetfulness. There appears to be an interesting connection between emotional behavior in people and computer diagnostic messages. The following dialogues illustrate this point. See if you can determine where conventional computer messages leave off and where uniquely human responses begin. If you find the boundary a little fuzzy, what does that mean?

See also Machines Who Can Deny Their Maker, a play by Professor Roz Picard of the MIT Media Lab.