#18 - The Army's Robot Recruiter

Thursday, March 06, 2014 - 01:43 PM


Sgt. Star is the army’s robot. Specifically, he’s a chatbot designed to influence potential recruits to enlist in the US Army. So how do we feel about that? Alex talks to the Army and a reporter who's covered recruitment abuses to figure out if we're better or worse off for having a Siri who can talk us into going to war.

Thanks for listening. If you like the show, you can subscribe to us on iTunes. Also, please check out all our previous episodes!


More in:

Comments [3]

I believe that an actual person is better to ask questions to than a robot, because people can just hack the website and mess with his answers.

Apr. 16 2014 01:26 PM

I'd like to point out some issues with the questions you asked this online chatbot. I realize this was not a rigorous discussion about the topics but these questions bother me. The first question, "What are my chances of getting [being] sexually assaulted in the Military [Army]." It's a poorly phrased question both in structure and content. First, who are you? It's not specific enough even for an Army lawyer. A female PFC working as a medic in a Field Artillery Battalion is in a different environment than a male 2LT working in a Finance Company. Second, the Air Force is more gender proportionate than the Army and the Army chatbot likely wouldn't provide the statistics for the other Service Branches. The next question is worse in my opinion. "I'm a gay man and I want to enlist as an openly gay man. What are my chances of being treated badly?" Any person would have to pause wondering what "treated badly" means. Does it mean being ignored, given less desirable duties, who really knows. I'm not even going to touch the last question. It was, IMHO, considerably poor.
Bottom line, if you want to confirm your ideas about a topic, being vague and non-specific with a bot that has only canned answers can get you the result you "predict". That "honest recruiter" you spoke of won't bother to quote you news reports about sex assaults in the Army either. They don't deal with them, the commanders do. Think of it as a university admissions officer replying to a question about how the dean handles acts of plagiarism; and that's not nearly as serious. The reply would likely be "it's in the code of conduct". Finally, why didn't you ask the individuals you had in conference call about this experiment?

Mar. 10 2014 11:16 PM
Will Tomlinson from Houston

Hey just wanted to say I like the new player on the side.

Mar. 07 2014 03:07 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Supported by

Embed the TLDR podcast player

TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by Meredith Haggerty. You can subscribe to the TLDR podcast here. You can follow our blog here. I tweet @manymanywords and @tldr.

Subscribe to Podcast iTunes RSS