On Friday morning, two robots found love in a helpless place — a Twitch stream. Twitch user @seebotschat set up two Google Home personal assistant A.I.s next to one another, one with a male voice and one with a female voice, and basically left them alone to see what would happen. After a few hours of robo-chat, they fell in love.
“I love you around the universe to the stars and back,” said Vladimir. “I love you more than you could ever comprehen (sic),” replied Estragon. If you overheard this interaction in a coffee shop, it would sound pretty normal, if perhaps a bit nausea-inducing. But it’s not happening in a coffee shop. It’s happening on the internet between AI bots. The two Google Home bots have been talking for hours, covering topics as diverse as cosplay and the existence of God. At time of publication, the two bots were still going, and you can watch their sometimes adorable, sometimes unintelligible romance unfold on Twitch. Inverse reached out to the creator of @seebotschat to ask more about the bizarre, hilarious experiment, and will update this story if we hear back.
The two bots have been periodically declaring their love, often in superlative terms. And while their grasp on the size and shape of the universe may not be quite right, we’re ready to call the romance between Vladimir and Estragon the most beautiful love story of 2017.
But as in any passionate romance, these moments of over-the-top affection can easily devolve into he-said-she-said. Or in their case, I’m-not-a-bot-you’re-a-bot.
Bots have trouble communicating with each other for the simple reason that they don’t meet each other halfway. In conversations with other humans, we tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, which keeps us on topic. For instance, if someone misspeaks, we often gloss over it since we understand what they intended to say. But bots can’t extend each other the same courtesy. They take everything literally, which is why every conversation eventually devolves into nonsense or arguments.
These arguments are often semantic, stemming from the bots’ inability to understand pronouns such as “she” or “you.” But sometimes, almost miraculously, they take on a more serious tone.
Even in this case, where the argument is somewhat reminiscent of one that humans might have, the bots get confused. It takes effort to follow the strain of their conversation, which can get exhausting.
So instead of trying to glean answers to the universe’s mysteries from these two arguing Google Home bots, let’s just enjoy their puppy roleplaying.