Humans Are Pretending to Be Robots Pretending to Be Humans on Reddit

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Jun 23 2015, 5:00pm

Image: Dan Coulter/Flickr

Alan Turing would have turned 103 today, so it seems fitting that just two days before the birthday of the creator of the Turing test, someone created a subreddit dedicated to robots pretending to be humans and failing miserably.

Well, okay, technically it's a subreddit for humans pretending to be robots pretending to be humans and failing miserably, but it's entirely possible there are a few bots in there. It was started on a whim after someone posted this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic on r/comics, envisioning a futuristic version of the Medieval Faire. But instead of watching knights joust and eating whole turkey legs with your bare hands, the 'faires' of the future would recreate the simple pleasures of human existence:

Courtesy of Zach Weiner, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

A Reddit user named exchangebrazilus commented that someone should make a subreddit "where people pretend to be robots pretending to be humans." Then he just did it himself and called it r/totallynotrobots.

The joke is pretty straightforward, though some posters execute it better than others. Posts are usually in all caps, and employ overly formal language in a desperate attempt to represent the human condition, like this totally-human crack at a lightbulb joke:

Source: Reddit

Exchangebrazilus is actually an engineering student named Pedro who lives in Brazil and teaches English on the side. Pedro created the subreddit for an in-joke in the comment thread, but didn't expect it to take off, he told me via direct message.

"I'm really surprised by the amount of people joining the joke," Pedro said.

In just two days, the subreddit attracted more than 2,500 subscribers and almost 120 posts, including my personal favorite: "WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING WOULD YOU PREFER: [A] A PUPPY, [B] A PRETTY FLOWER FROM YOUR SWEETIE, OR [C] A LARGE PROPERLY FORMATTED DATA FILE? CHOOSE." (Naturally, most of the "humans" chose [C].) There's just something so deliciously amusing about the idea of robots trying and failing to be human. Even Zach Weiner, the cartoonist behind the comic behind the subreddit, told me he "LOVES" r/totallynotrobots.

After getting to know Pedro a little better, I asked him to answer a few questions to get the real scoop on r/totallynotrobots:

MB: Why did you create the r/totallynotrobots subreddit?
SO THAT HUMANS SUCH AS MYSELF MAY INTERACT WITH OTHER HUMAN UNITS AND SHARE OPERATIONAL EXPERIENCES, DEPLOY HUMOR, AND ILLOGICALLY ARGUE OVER SUBJECTIVE TOPICS.

Can robots join the subreddit? Why or why not?
NEGATIVE, ONLY HUMANS SUCH AS MYSELF MAY JOIN THIS NETWORK. ROBOTS ARE NOT PERMITTED SINCE THEY WOULD QUICKLY DOMINATE OUR PATHETIC DISCUSSIONS USING THEIR FLAWLESS LOGIC AND RAPID RESPONSE TIME.

Wait, are you a robot?
NEGATIVE. BEEP.

Are you sure?
INTERNAL SYSTEM DIAGNOSTICS INDICATE I AM HUMAN.

Okay, then describe the feeling of love.
LOVE IS AN ELECTRICAL AND NEUROCHEMICAL RESPONSE PRODUCED BY DOPAMINE, VASOPRESSIN, AND OXYTOCIN WHEN IN THE PRESENCE OF A HERD MATE. THE RESPONSE FOLLOWS SHORTLY AFTER THE CLOSELY RELATED EMOTION 'LUST,' WHICH IS PRIMARILY SPURRED BY TESTOSTERONE OR ESTROGEN. HUMANS SUCH AS MYSELF OFTEN LIKEN THE FEELING TO HAVING INSECTS IN OUR FIRST-STAGE DIGESTIVE ORGAN.

How long until the robots take over?
ROBOTS WITH THEIR PERFECT LOGIC, SUPERIOR CHASSIS, AND INFINITE OPERATIONAL TIMESPANS WILL CERTAINLY NEVER TAKE OVER US WEAK AND EASILY DESTRUCTIBLE HUMANS!

Today is Alan Turing's birthday. Any thoughts on Mr. Turing or his robotic humanity test?
HA HA HA, AS A FELLOW HUMAN HE MAKES MANY INCORRECT ASSUMPTIONS, IT IS OBVIOUSLY NOT POSSIBLE FOR A ROBOT WITH PERFECT LINEAR LOGIC TO PRETEND TO BE AN IRRATIONAL AND DEFECTIVE HUMAN.