Artificial Intelligence

Programming Politeness

Do you feel awkward saying “thanks” to a bot?

By Monica Mehta

Spring 2018

Developers spend countless hours programming human-like empathy into bots, but what does it say about “actual” humans when we pose endless questions to Siri or act rude to Alexa? When The Verge writer Chaim Gartenberg informally polled Twitter followers to see if they say please or thank you to virtual assistants, only 23 percent said yes.

Gartenberg thinks we must mind our manners. “Getting in the habit of talking that way can ensure that you’re polite when there’s an actual person on the other side,” he says. And that’s not even considering how bots will feel when they develop their own emotions.

Illustration by Wes Rowell