Feb 10, 2014

The Millionare Robot Conspiracy

Sometimes when I need a self-esteem boost, I'll play Who Wants to be a Millionaire? on Facebook. Of course, sometimes I'm not one of the top three players and then I feel really bad. I have actually beat the game a few times, although once I cheated because Tay was playing it with me and our combined trivial powers are nontrivial.

There's a little chat window as part of the game interface, and lately I've noticed that there's been a lot more talking there than when I started playing. A few people will start with GLA from [name of state]!. Usually it's Florida. Then I started noticing people talking about bots. They'd comment, wow, lots of bots on this one!

For a long time, I thought that these people believed that there were actual bots playing the game to fill in vacant spots, up the ante, make the game more challenging. I started imagining a sentient botnet playing in earnest to win the"million dollars" and fund their botnet-taking-over-the-world activities. Until they humorously realize that it's just a game.

Actually, the whole thing is really stupid. I may need to play a few more games of Millionaire after this post.

The way that the game works is the familiar Millionaire format which is multiple choice. The first person to respond correctly gets a bonus, usually an additional 50% which can be really big deal. The idea I guess was to make a game where if everyone knew all the answers (and they GIVE you two free ones), then the fastest person would win. The problem as I see it is that many of these players don't read that quickly and don't have the reaction time. They get frustrated and call the fast-draw players bots.

Sometimes when that happens, I'll write bland messages like "We hope you'll enjoy our new answering algorithm" and "We appreciate your participation in this vital AI research."

How about a nice game of chess?

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