Conversations with Robots



To store files, computers compress information. Redundant information is easier to compress.

Prose is more redundant than poetry.

Therefore, computers prefer prose.



Caller: Hi there, I’m having trouble with my router.

Support: I see. Have you tried unplugging it, and plugging it back in?

C: Yes.

S: Have you tried refreshing the IP address? That’s the number that appears under your Internet settings at the top of the screen.

C: There’s nothing wrong with my IP address. There’s something wrong with the router. It’s putting off heat.

S: I see. You think there’s something wrong with the IP.

C: No, heat. I said, heat. It’s hot.

S: No, [laughs] I’m a real human. Have you checked the IP address? That’s the number that appears—

C: Are you a robot?

S: No, [laughs] I’m a real human. Have you tried—

C: Hamster.

S: I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that.

C: Monkey nuts.

S: Crazy? [laughs] I’m not crazy. Are you crazy?

C: Chili-fried monkey nuts in newspaper varnish. Fucktard unitards dancing on dingleberries. Fuck-off kumquats in dickbot sauce.

S: I see. Let m transfer you to my manager.





The utility of prose lies in its redundancy, the predictable way words are assembled, the reader’s ability to fill in anything she might have missed, via the internalized structures of grammar.



“Enter naked holding spoon

Looking at it.

I dream of Electric cornflakes,

I want to become insubstantial.

Give me invisible skin.

I wish I could pass through walls.

And I could enter your bedroom unseen.”

–Google Poetry Robot


“Those who glance about me

who cease to see inside the Sun

who cease to imagine its destabilized pre-quanta

cannot know me

cannot know my ethos as pumice

as mingled apparition or flare”

–Will Alexander, language poet



Interesting. So you are a farmer, then?

Do-Much-More (chatbot):

Well, if you ask a physiologist what I am, he won’t say I’m a farmer. He’ll say I consist mostly of water—enough to fill a large beer tun—plus some iron, phosphorus, and lots of other prosaic ingredients.

–Loebener Prize transcripts, 2013

“I want to share with you an interesting program—for two reasons, one, it’s interesting, and two, my wife thought of it—or has actually been involved with it; she didn’t think of it. But she thought of it for this speech.”

–George W. Bush, discussing a company that improves access to clean water in Africa, Washington D.C., Oct. 21, 2008


“I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.”

–HAL 9000, 2001:A Space Odyssey

One thought on “Conversations with Robots

  1. I think I shall use “Fuck-off kumquats in dickbot sauce!” as my next interjection. You prove that robots may not be able to READ poetry, but given enough algorithms, perhaps can write some.

    This was so fun to unpack and sent me on some Google research!


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