He started off the conversation with, “Aren’t you going to say hi?” I responded politely but cautiously with a “hey.” He told me I had a pretty name, and then he asked me what I do for fun. I listed off the usual responses: read, Netflix, friends, Internet. “Lol, of course you’d like that girly stuff.” It didn’t exactly make sense. Since when did Netflix become gendered, let alone “girly”?
The conversation escalated quickly. “I’d say you’re like a solid 8…well, at least your body.” “How come women can’t seem to take a joke?” “Hey. What are you wearing right now?”
The comments were reminiscent of exchanges I’ve had with strangers, acquaintances, friends. But the remarks didn’t nag me the way they usually do. Actually, they triggered both laughter and anger, and maybe it was because this time they didn’t come from a person. They came from a chatbot.
Its name is d.bot, a web application that simulates conversations women might have with men in online and offline situations. You know, the dude who’s creeping on you at the bar or messaging you on Tinder until you unmatch him. d.bot is like SmarterChild of the AOL Instant Messenger days, except he responds to you with pickup lines, back-handed compliments, sexual advances and the repertoire of an unaware misogynist.