Chatbot Wears Down Proponents of Anti-Science Nonsense

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When he tired of arguing with climate change skeptics, one programmer wrote a chatbot to do it for him.

The result is the Twitter chatbot @AI_AGW. Its operation is fairly simple: Every five minutes, it searches twitter for several hundred set phrases that tend to correspond to any of the usual tired arguments about how global warming isn’t happening or humans aren’t responsible for it.

It then spits back at the twitterer who made that argument a canned response culled from a database of hundreds. The responses are matched to the argument in question – tweets about how Neptune is warming just like the earth, for example, are met with the appropriate links to scientific sources explaining why that hardly constitutes evidence that the source of global warming on earth is a warming sun.

The database began as a simple collection of responses written by Leck himself, but these days quite a few of the rejoinders are culled from a university source whom Leck says he isn’t at liberty to divulge.

Written By: Christopher Mims
continue to source article at technologyreview.com

16 COMMENTS

      • In reply to #7 by Peter Grant:

        In reply to #6 by papa lazaru:

        It’s a chatbot, it’s gonna get suspended. It’s good for a laugh though.

        I have created quite a few bots which are still active.

        Fair enough, but not as high profile as this, presumably? It would be interesting to know whether it violates the Twitter Ts&Cs or if Nigel Leck took it down for another reason. If the former, I can think of several ways to achieve the same end that likely work around the Ts and Cs.

    • In reply to #10 by Liandro:

      Really wish they wouldn’t have revealed the method of doing that, I can imagine an aggravating clever christian doing the same for atheistic/scientific/rational tweets.

      Anyone who gets upset because of an anonymous tweet is by my definition of the word not behaving rationally. There are plenty of things to get upset about. That some idiot says something stupid on Twitter is not one of them. Twitter mostly is designed for the purpose of letting stupid people say stupid things.

      • In reply to #11 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #10 by Liandro:

        Anyone who gets upset because of an anonymous tweet is by my definition of the word not behaving rationally.

        They are not in terms of the debate. Politically it’s very sensible and quite rational to be “upset” (and to get other people upset) at something that is an effective opposition tactic against the view you want to propagate, as a means to get rid of it.

    • In reply to #10 by Liandro:

      Really wish they wouldn’t have revealed the method of doing that, I can imagine an aggravating clever christian doing the same for atheistic/scientific/rational tweets.

      No, they couldn’t. AGW denial has a standard set of arguments, all of which have been refuted, just as with creationism and apologetics, which are simply repeated. This is not true of worthwhile atheist, scientific or rational tweets. Indeed, a service that automatically debunked false assertions would be valued, not attacked as this was by at least some conservative deniers (if that’s not a redundant term).

  1. This article asks us to believe opposition to the idea that man made global warming is in any way significant is non-scientific and unworthy of consideration. In doing so the author betrays his ignorance of the tens of thousands of scientists who dispute the claims of the global warming industry. Our opposition is entirely scientific and non-dogmatic. Please check my colleague Professor Fred Singer’s organization SEPP through sepp.org for the start of a journey that should open your eyes.

  2. For those who wondered – yes, this article is 3 years old and Nigel Leck’s bots ran afoul of Twitter’s automated anti-spam algorithms quite some time ago. I don’t think any of them are active any longer. It is in fact possible to run a bot on Twitter successfully, but you have to be very, very careful in how it engages other users or Twitter will consider you guilty of spamming. In general most of the long-running bots I’ve seen will only ever send a tweet directed at a particular person once, unless that person then chats back to the robot. Having the robot (temporarily) follow the people it is chatting with seems to be helpful too.

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