Thursday, March 24, 2005

Theory of Trolls

A few hours ago (while I was taking a short break from paper-land) Bill and I were discussing the existence of internet trolls, namely, who are these people?

His theory is that they're actually artificially intelligent programs that were intially conceived by the NSA to annoy the Russians. When relations started to thaw between the Americans and the Russians, these "beings", to prevent their own demise, had no choice but to escape into the 'Net. At first, they lived in Usenet world, but when that environment dried up, they migrated to popular blogs. The jury is out on whether or not they possess capacity for self-awareness. But one must admit that it's a brilliant feat of programming that these creatures can hold two (or more!) logically inconsistent viewpoints at once.

I was amazed that they exist in so many types of forums (forae?), including those discussing relatively mundane topics. I think that's really great evidence for Bill's theory.


Anonymous Michael Chermside said...

I suspect that these autonomous programs need to find some way of hijacking CPU cycles on various computers that they inhabit in order to continue their existence.

To do so without being identified as a virus and removed, they need to appear to be processing valid data. As you can easily tell from their behavior, they achieve this by creating posts that will generate responses... thus providing evidence to the host system that the troll AI is actually performing a "useful" task.

So to help in wiping out these accidental creatures, avoid responding to their postings. Without responses, they will be quickly identified and removed from their host systems. In other words... "don't feed the trolls".

7:38 PM, March 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are trolls actually AI programs or "robots" or whatever or are they real people?

I guess I'm trying to understand as I've had a few rude comments but I ignored the ones that were just idiotic but I also think some people are trying to voice an opposing opinion and just not realizing someones personal online diary or blog is a proper forum for debate.

I've chosen to sometimes not allow comments so I won't have anyone argue with me but othertimes I enjoy the intelligent debate.

I guess I need to read more on what a troll really is because I honestly thought it was just a person who was either trying to piss people off for fun or having a view different than that of the person who is posting on forums or diaries or whatever.

I'm choosing to post anonymous because if I'm really that stupid to not think that a program could be doing this than I don't want to be made fun of with my real name.

2:03 AM, April 02, 2005  
Blogger Barbara Preuninger said...

Hi anonymous,

I won't make fun of you for two very important reasons:

1) You could be someone I know personally. (Not that I don't care about others also, but still...)


2) Given my own reputation for extreme gullibility, it would hardly be appropriate for me to trash others for the same trait!

But no, this post is intended as a joke. Of course, I have no evidence one way or the other about the true identity of trolls. As far as I know, AI technology has not yet gotten to that level of sophistication. I would be absolutely fascinated if it could!

Heh - new challenging project for computer science students: the "Auto-troll"!

9:40 AM, April 14, 2005  

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