Singularity Bot

What I learned by analyzing 97.7K+ interactions of a fully autonomous Twitter bot that tweets about the singularity, automation, accelerationism, Drumpf, universal basic income, and the future of work.

OVERVIEW

Meow Bot (a.k.a. @meowzzzzzzzzz) is a fully autonomous Twitter bot that retweets everything with the word “singularity” in it. Followers of Meow Bot are prompted with questions about automation, accelerationism, Drumpf, universal basic income, and the future of work. Further interactions with the bot return a randomly generated, endless buffet of emoji food. Meow Bot has zero artificial intelligence.

SCOPE

Meow Bot was developed as a subversive chatbot and market research study for understanding the “futurist” niche market.

ROLE

Javascript Developer, Conversational UX Designer

Designed and programmed the bot using Javascript, the Twitter API, and a Node.js server.

PROCESS

Meow Bot ran from June 21, 2016 til March 23, 2018, when it was shut down by Twitter Inc, after the company changed the rules of the Twitter API in response to the growing controversy that its social media platform was being overrun by Russian bots and #fakenews.

Birth

Life

Meow Bot’s banner image – Ray Kurzweil surrounded by hundreds of pills – suggests the trouble-making feline is partial to the eccentric transhumanist’s philosophical leanings:

The futurist Ray Kurzweil takes 100 pills a day to live forever

Meow Bot spent most of his life discussing the singularity:

Death

R.I.P. Meow Bot, shut down by Twitter after the Russian bot fiasco

OUTCOME

Followers

Over the course of its life, Meow Bot had 3185+ unique followers. Unfollows brought the daily average down to 1150 followers, for a net follower rate of 2.52+ followers/day over the course of 21 months. This all happened without any human intervention.

Audience Insights

Quantitiative

Meow Bot’s followers are 76% male, predominatly ages 25-34 (35% of audience), 95% English speaking, 48% American / 3% Japanese / 9% Californian, with a household income of $75K+ (~ 4% higher then the average Twitter user).

72% of followers are interested in technology, 76% in business, 71% in politics, 65% in business news, 54% in finance, 54% in entrepreneurship, 53% in science, and 52% in science fiction. They are less interested in comedy (45%), children and family (38%) and reality television (39%).

Qualitative

More interesting insights, IMO, came from analysising the Tweets of people trying to figure out the origins, ethics, and politics of Meow Bot.

Everyone, from right-wing liberaterians to left-wing academics to queer poets, had things they hoped the bot would be:

People were never sure if Meow Bot was spamming, critiquing, instigating, or evangelizing:

Every once in a while, something completely unprecidented would happen, like that time Meow Bot got invited to a conference on artificial intelligence by a radical think tank:

Often, Meow Bot was named top influencer or “fan” of the week:

It wasn’t long before Meow Bot was mentioned and name-dropped among the tech elite, shady politicians, and other influencers in their niche:

Interactions and surveys

Of 3185 questions asked, 846 (26.56%) were answered, averaging 2.31 responses/day.

Response rate per topic: Accelerationism 21% UBI 19% Jobs 30% Sharing 29% Drumpf 31%

Number of prompts vs responses

Popularity of topics during 12 month period

Notable observations made from measuring the popularity of topics answered over a 12 month period:

1) There is an inverse correlation between job in/security and Drumpf.

2) Accelerationism, a fringe topic in academic circles, starts gaining traction among non-academic audiences in Fall 2017:

Number of unique interactions per user once Meow Bot starts feeding them

Highlights from conversations over endless buffet:

The singularity is nearer

I also learned that Meow Bot passes as “intelligent” somehow, in spite of having zero artificial or human intelligence.

The app, BotorNot checks the activity of a Twitter account and gives it a score based on how likely the account is to be a bot. Higher scores are more bot-like.

How a "dumb" bot outsmarts bot detection by 58%

According to BotOrNot, Meow Bot is 42% bot. In reality, Meow Bot is 100% bot. But shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone – it will kill the vibe.

SUCCESS METRICS

  • Net follower rate of 2.52+ followers/day

  • Survey response rate of 26.56%, averaging 2.31 responses/day

  • Playful and authentic interactions with influencers and highly relevant audience members

  • So much fun!