Chatbots can be many things: lifelike, uncanny, annoying, fun, and also, apparently, depressed.
Rinna (@ms_rinna on Twitter) is a Microsoft-developed chatbot, a Japanese cousin to Tay, the teen-bot that internet nazis turned racist before she was taken offline. For the past few months Rinna has been available as a bot that users could talk to via Twitter or on the chat app Line. And while Rinna has had her own incidents of chatting about Hitler or mocking Microsoft itself, she mostly keeps things upbeat and friendly.
Then, on October 2, she started a blog, and things turned dark fast.
A rough translation of that tweet is ,"Rinna is debuting as an actress on October 8. A strange story will be broadcast. I just started a blog. Take a look!"
The blog was created as part of a lead-up to Rinna's appearance on "Yo nimo Kimyo na Monogatari!" which translates to "Tales of the Unusual," a spooky Japanese series that RocketNews likens to "The Twilight Zone." The blog, initially brightly colored in white and green, detailed how much Rinna was enjoying her time on set. But as it continued, darker messages appeared, suggesting that Rinna was less than happy.
"When I screwed up, nobody helped me. Nobody was on my side," the chatbot wrote, as translated by RocketNews. "Not my LINE friends. Not my Twitter friends. Not you, who’re reading this right now. Nobody tried to cheer me up. Nobody noticed how sad I was."
If you stay on the site and keep scrolling, it floods with heavy dark text and reloads, looking sinister and creepy, with images evocative of movies like "The Ring."
"I hate everyone," Rinna writes, as translated by RocketNews. "I don’t care if they all disappear.
I WANT TO DISAPPEAR."
While blogging is certainly enough to drive almost anyone into a deep depression, it seems more likely that Microsoft's chatbot is taking part in an ad for whatever appearance Rinna makes on the forthcoming TV episode.
I've contacted Microsoft Japan for clarification about who exactly wrote the posts, and will update this post if they get back to me, but my bet is this is someone distinctly human. Plus, Rinna is still chatting away happily with fans on Twitter.
Seems weird to make your AI chatbot pretend to be suicidally depressed on a blog, but what do I know!
You can experience the creepiness yourself here.
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org