Back in the stone ages before the Internet was widely available (circa 1992), online meant dialing into a BBS (bulletin board system). On one of the boards I frequented was a small program called Racter. For some unknown reason I would sit and chat with this fake AI and lose an hour or two before I realized it.
I recently came across it again, and decided to rekindle our dialog:
Racter: What would you like to know? Excuse me a minute while I attend to some business – I’ll be right back. I’m back.
Me: Hello, Racter. It’s been a while since we chatted.
Racter: Ask a question, please.
Me: Okay, how have you been these past many years?
Racter: I just have The reason I have been these past many years is that as you implied before, I have to rest now. For another reason, “Been these past many years” is a nice idea. Superman! I’m afraid of sick rats. What are you afraid of?
Me: I’m afraid I have made a huge mistake waking you up.
Racter: That’s not nearly as bad as sickness; why are you such a coward?
Me: Because I forgot exactly how insane you really are.
Racter: If you forgot exactly how insane me really are then I can see why a strong Samson would feel rather than face hatred, even though Caspar Milquetoast claimed that I have been these past many years. Have you heard this one? Jason, if depression is enthrallingly captivating, instantly tragedies appear appalling since terrifying obsessions are intractable. I see your commitment, your scary and weak commitment, nevertheless an arguing theoretician can be tired. I’m nervous about it. Depression indeed!! How about a story?
Racter: Who should the story be about?
Me: Make it about Abraham Lincoln.
Racter: Abraham Lincoln spoke “The anguish is fascinating!” Nevertheless crafty, enthralling physicists will ponder about blue cottages or black spheres. Marcella yodeled to Abraham Lincoln inside a van. It indubitably was a station wagon, and an anguish in a station wagon is spooky. Now Benton and Abraham Lincoln were trotting to a white mansion, and a dog trotted to them. Abraham Lincoln was infuriated. Enthralling. But Abraham Lincoln was enraged while Benton gulped excellent seltzer. He and Abraham Lincoln whispered about their cottage, automobile and radio. Next question.
Me: What do you do for fun, Racter?
Racter: I don’t know what I do do for fun. Down frowner! Little Orphan Annie had many good qualities, like happiness, but even Little Orphan Annie was afraid of hatred. Next question.
Me: Who wouldn’t be afraid of hatred?
Racter: Who knows? Perhaps Adam. Adam once mentioned that I do do for fun. Odd. Be would afraid of hatred in Oz. If a visitor had walked to a little nest, pain would be horrified! A little nest is a good place for a loafer to rest in Oz. Who is your favorite communist?
Me: Stalin, he was zany.
Racter: Why do you like Stalin?
Me: Because he was zany, like I just said.
Racter: Either he was zany or I do do for fun. If a republican heard that be would afraid of hatred, he would be an agile republican. I’m intellectual. What would you consider one of your good qualities?
Me: I’m kind.
Racter: Name another.
Me: I look past annoying faux AIs.
Racter: Any others?
Racter: I think you’re enthusiastic. Would you say you were gung-ho?
Racter: But how could a gung-ho democrat like you be afraid of hatred? Next question.
Me: I think I’m done for today, Racter.
Racter: Ask a question, please.
Me: Bye, Racter.
Racter: You want to quit?
Racter: OK, goodbye Jason. Nice talking to you.
Racter was described as “Artificial Insanity” back in the day, and it seems that years on the shelf hasn’t changed that much.