Thursday, March 02, 2006

The latest move by the spambots

Are you guys getting spam like this:
Bill never realized that sex was the cause of it all. If the sun that morning had not been burning so warmly in the brassy sky of Phigerinadon II, and if he had not glimpsed the sugar-white and wine-barrel-wide backside of Inga-Maria Calyphigia, while she bathed in the stream, he might have paid more attention to his plowing than to the burning pressures of heterosexuality and would have driven his furrow to the far side of the hill before the seductive music sounded along the road. He might never have heard it, and his life would have been very, very different. But he did hear it and dropped the handles of the plow that was plugged into the robomule, turned, and gaped.
Some spambot out there is getting things past the SLU filters by incorporating snipits of tawdry fiction. This is the most amusing development in spam since the dictionary-based name generator that gave me Modigliani O. Localized and recently gave Charlie Winos H. Biopsies.

It occurred to me that spam-generating robots may be the first kind of software to develop truly human intelligence. They are constantly evolving to sound more like someone you want to talk to. You get the sense that eventually they will simply start having things to say. Like one day I’ll get a spam that says “Hey Rob, for your paper on Buddhist nature attitudes, you really need to check out the Jakata animal stories. Also, for cheap Viagra, click on this link.” The evolution here looks a lot like sexual selection, too. The spambot is trying to deliver a payload of information that will help it reproduce. To do this, it has to develop an appealing display. Interestingly, the appealing display is completely unconnected to the payload delivered. Just as the peacock is unaware that his elaborate feather display is a means to pass on DNA, so too is the spambot unaware of the goods it is trying to sell.

Oh, and hey, the quotation in the spam is from Bill the Galactic Hero by pulpy sci fi writer Harry Harrison.

“The sugar-white and wine-barrel-wide backside of Inga-Maria Calyphigia” Hee hee.

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