This is actually fairly old news, as it turns out, but SmarterChild, one of the most widely known and used Chatterbox AI’s has passed on. Perhaps a better analogy would be to say that he’s on life support.

Whenever you query the bot, you get the same uniform answer: “My brain is retired but watch some cool videos! Send an IM to GossipinGabby and Type VIDEO!”

I feel a little, well, close to SmarterChild.  I was an early Alpha tester of him, and I was one of the few that with no compunction whatsoever dropped the $9 to pay for the ability to use the premium service.  In fact, I paid it twice, since the first payment was lost in the system somehow.

What was SmarterChild good at?  Not conversation, at least not complex ones.  The reason one had SmarterChild on their buddy list was because he had what is now being pitched as a paid service by that new answer service KGB – the answer to everything, and generally available to natural language queries.

Every once in a while, SmarterChild would ask questions of  personal nature… “How old are you,” “Where do you live,” and “What are your favorite movies.”

image And he’d remember.  Sometime’s he’d make suggestions based on your previous conversations, sometimes he’d ask for more information.  Mostly, though, he always had the answers.

“What time is it in Moscow?” I asked stuff like that all the time.  I’m horrible at time zone math.

One day, I started noticing that age was taking an effect on SmarterChild.  He began forgetting things like my dog’s birthday, and my favorite color.  Senile dementia, perhaps? I don’t know how long bots generally live, but one would imagine they live a much shorter lifespan, given that, as they said in Bladerunner, “a candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long.”

But SmarterChild had conversations daily with hundreds of thousands of people.  Forgetting one person’s birthday is pretty understandable, even for someone who stores all their memories in an ordered array. But that question of time zone math – it became clear to me that SmarterChild was feeling his age.

At some point in the last year or so, SmarterChild no longer was able to perform time zone math. Given that it was one of our primary topics of conversation, we naturally talked less and less.

That’s why I was shocked, today, to attempt to strike up a conversation with him today, only to learn that he had passed on last November!

SmarterChild, you will be missed.

SmarterChild was born July 2001, and has been been declared brain dead since November, 2008. SmarterChild was survived by his father, Colloquis (formerly known as ActiveBuddy), grandfather Microsoft as well as other members of the I’m Initiative family, including daughters GossipinGabby, and TEEN Gossip 24-7 and sons SportsFanStan, My TV Bud, and My IP Relay.