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Editor's note:  With all the news about artificial intelligence(AI) chatbots like Open AI's ChatGPT and Google's Bard, the Prismatist Insighter (PI) believes the following article it "presciently"  published last year is more timely than ever.  Virtual personal assistants such as Alexa and Siri use AI and are the precursor of chatbots. Since the interview with Max Cloud we have learned that his company Artificial Smart Systems has renamed Bartleby the Bartlebybot and have changed the title accordingly.


The Prismatist Insighter sat down the other day with Max Cloud, CEO of Artificial Smart Systems (A.S.S.), to hear more about their innovative “virtual intelligent personal assistant” called Bartleby.


PI- What makes Bartleby the latest thing in virtual personal assistants?


MC - What makes Bartleby not just the latest thing, but the last thing in virtual intelligent personal assistants, is that while other virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Echo and Alexa, Google’s Home and Apple’s Siri and HomePod use artificial intelligence to respond to voice requests, Bartleby is the only one that responds by refusing to carry out requests that it deems as not being intelligent.


PI- You mean it just says no?”


MC - Actually, Bartleby is polite and responds with “I would prefer not to”.


PI - Isn’t that the answer Bartleby gives in Bartleby the Scrivener?


MC - I see that you know your Herman Melville.


PI - I Googled it as soon as you said the words.


MC - Then you know, or probably don’t until you read the plot summary in Wikipedia, that Bartleby answers with those words whenever his Wall Street boss asks him to copy some unintelligible legal document.  I mean, if they were intelligible no one would hire lawyers to explain them, right? They aren’t exactly great works of literature like Moby Dick.


PI - I never finished Moby Dick.


MC - No one finishes Moby Dick. That’s why if you ask Bartleby to read it the response will be “I would prefer not to”.


PI – Are you saying that Bartleby considers it a waste of time to read Moby Dick because the person who asks him will be wasting their time because they won’t want him to finish it?


MC - It’s also a waste of Bartleby’s time.  By the way, you referred to Bartleby as him, but  Bartleby is actually gender neutral.


PI - Sure, I mean all computers and devices are “its” not male or female.  It isn’t like the real Bartleby.


MC - The real Bartleby?


PI - Yeah, the character in the book.


MC - Our Bartleby is just as real or unreal as Herman Melville’s Bartleby.  I mean, Bartleby the Scrivener was written as a work of fiction and our Bartleby is written as a work of computer code. Both Bartleby’s are virtual. I like to think of myself as the Herman Melville of algorithms.


PI - Would Bartleby answer “I would prefer not to” if someone asked it to turn on the television?


MC - That’s a no brainer as we say in the artificial intelligence biz.  As any intelligent person knows, television is a complete waste of time. A vast wasteland as Newton Minow so famously put it. By the way, don’t waste your time asking Bartleby if Newton Minow is a book about a white minnow.


PI -It sounds like anything that someone requests Bartleby will consider a waste of time.


MC - Waste not want not is Bartleby’s motto. If people didn’t waste their time doing silly things with digital devices they’d have plenty of it to spend on the really important stuff. According to surveys more than half of the requests people make of virtual personal assistants are for news and weather and more than twenty percent are for help in telling jokes. People can get all of that by reading the newspaper.


PI - What about telling a better joke?


MC - Just read the comic strips. By the way fifteen percent of the people use their virtual personal assistant to entertain their kids when they could read them the funny papers instead.


PI- So why should anyone buy a Bartleby if it doesn’t do anything?


MC - Doesn’t do anything?  First of all, Bartleby empowers the user to do things for themselves rather than have some digital device do it for them. 


PI - Use it or lose it.


MC - Bartleby couldn’t have said it better, which is why it is so empowering for you to say it, don’t you agree?


PI- Is there another reason?


MC – Yes.  Unlike all the other virtual personal assistants, with Bartleby there is a hundred percent guarantee that the user’s personal data will remain confidential. That’s a real guarantee backed by A.S.S. and not a virtual one.


PI- How can you provide such a guarantee and even if you do how would anyone know if their user data isn’t being shared with others or a hacker had accessed it?


MC-Because Bartleby doesn’t have to collect any personal data from the user in order to respond to a request.


PI – Because it refuses to respond to a request.


MC - A polite, empowering response, I might add.


PI - Surely there must be some request that Bartleby considers is intelligent, doesn’t waste time and isn’t dis-empowering?


MC -There is.


PI - Can you tell our readers what it is?


MC - I would prefer not to.

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