advertisement Bots Tweet And Post As You, Freeing You Up

Because being your best digital self is harder than it looks. Bots Tweet And Post As You, Freeing You Up

The old saw that “on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog” has mutated into something much weirder: Thanks to social networks, everyone knows you’re a dog. But a bot? That’s harder to tell. Or at least it might be, if a web service called catches on. The site, created by Matthieu Cherubini, installs a bot to be “you” on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. After all, in this day and age maintaining an ideal social-media persona is hard work. So why not have a replicant do it?


It’s hard not to see as at least semi-satirical — the deadpan voiceover in the demo video reminded me of GLaDOS, the quirkily evil AI from the video game Portal. If you’re too much of a self-conscious loser to be authentically “you” even in the consequence-free digital shadowlands of social media, the video seems to be saying, then an algorithm should have no trouble impersonating you — or even being a better “you” than you ever could. And any fan of Blade Runner — the movie from which takes its name — will smirk at the notion of installing a digital replicant to impersonate you on Twitter and Facebook, because in the movie, replicants were emotionally immature, delusional, and destined to self-destruct. Isn’t that basically how most people are on social networks already?

On the other hand, does illuminate a not-so-silly reality of life on social networks: Feeding the beast with status updates, pictures, and other “you”ness can become a full-time job if you’re not careful. People have become conditioned to expect a steady stream of content, and it’s already becoming a very real social expectation that looks “bad” if you don’t meet it. If were more like butler service than impersonation — providing a socially acceptable, yet automated level of “care and feeding” to your online profile so you don’t have to — that could be very appealing. Because let’s face it, the last thing we all need is more inauthenticity on Twitter and Facebook. If anyone you “friend” or “follow” could be a replicant, let’s hope someone codes up a digital equivalent of Rick Deckard to go around “retiring” them with extreme prejudice.

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About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets.