Why I Love Vice, Motherboard & SmarterChild

Motherboard, SmarterChild And An Interview

05103d07677ffe8262386a7073527a03a791bc-wmI moved on from founding NJ.com, one of the first online newspapers, to starting the company ActiveBuddy with Robert Hoffer (brains) and Tim Kay (CTO). I was the CEO (LOL).

By 2001, we raised over $15 million and became famous. SmarterChild, our proof of concept instant messaging app, ultimately had over thirty million IM relationships across AOL and other IM networks. People loved that they could talk with a computer that knew and remembered them and delivered instant results in the pre-WIFI age.

When I meet people in their late 20’s, it is not surprising that they played with SmarterChild. Apparently, Motherboard’s Ashwin Rodriguez did too.

SmarterChild had a persona and personality. It pains me that 16 years later, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are way boring.

In fact, our first paying customer (for the technology) was the band Radiohead.

The Article

Here is some copy from the top of the Motherboard article.

SmarterChild was a robot that lived in the buddy list of millions of American Online Instant Messenger (AIM) users. He was, as far as I know, my first interaction with artificial intelligence. I was a ripe 11 years old when SmarterChild was “born.” As we reflect on making machines in our image, and look to the future of AI, I can’t imagine this journey beginning without SmarterChild.

You could do many useful things when pinging the SmarterChild robot. Technically, I could ask him for stock quotes, movie times, weather, or other useful information. (When you asked whether SmarterChild was a male or female, I believe the answer was deflected. I always referred to the bot as a “he” in my mind. Perhaps because we try to see ourselves in technology. Maybe at the age where it was awkward to talk to girls, I could not fathom the pressure of speaking to a female robot.)

Read on to learn more. And… to hear me actually sound intelligent as one of the ActiveBuddy team just told me.

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