Bot fad due to Stockholm Syndrome

Our obsession with chat bots is because of a psychological weakness in the human condition.

Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors.

Our bots are our captors. We cannot escape them. They will follow us and message us until they make us buy buy buy. We must obey their rules and abide by their syntax, and if we ask them nicely enough, they will take our money.

We invite them into our inboxes and chats and ask them to enslave us. They attract us with cuteness, seeming helpless and helpful at the same time. But underneath this mask lies a complex corporate machine with an agenda of its own.

We see bots as subservient objects which enable gratification of our desires. But it is really the bot who is doing the manipulating. The bot is eliciting a desired response from the user, not the other way around. Software developers go as far as to explicitly state that the user is a just a function with inputs and outputs.

If we are just functions, that means we are not in power. The bot makers fully understand use and then subjugate us for their purpose. In our irrational minds we believe that we love them, our robot captors. I can already hear you shouting to defend your captors. “Bots help us, they need us, it’s a mutually beneficial relationship,” you retort. That is exactly Stockholm syndrome. Wouldn’t we be better off if they would let us go?

(for the record, I work for a company that makes an ethical, friendly chat bot that doesn’t pressure you or send annoying reminders)

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