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Monday, June 15, 2009


Susan B. Anthony, Virtually

Had the following chat with a virtual Susan B. Anthony at Virsona, a virtual-character company created in 2007. (Found the article on CNET by searching the keyword chatbot. Click Eliza 2.0 to read Rafe Needleman's article.)

SBA: Welcome to Virsona.
W: How do you do, Miss Anthony.
SBA: No, how do you do!
W: You are both polite and clever.
SBA: If I am, I'll never forgive myself.
W: When were you born?
SBA: I was born on February 15, 1820.
W: So HG Wells was about 46 years younger than you.
SBA: In 1849, at age 29, I became secretary for the Daughters of Temperance, which gave me a forum to speak out against alcohol abuse, and served as the beginning of my movement towards the public limelight.
W: You were brave.
SBA: Fair to partly cloudy.
W: You don't think you were courageous?
SBA: Hillary Clinton is a modern day pioneer of women's rights. She has furthered the torch of women in American presidential politics which was lit by Victoria Woodhull and passed on to the likes of Geraldine Ferraro. Her candidacy for United States president in 2008 showed how far women have come. As she put [it,] "eighteen million cracks in the glass ceiling."
W: But in your day, women had much less power than today.
SBA: I was a primary organizer, speaker, and writer for the 19th century women's rights movement in the United States,.
W: We have benefited from your pioneering spirit.
SBA: I feel quite well. Thanks for asking.
W: Your profile in the photo is excellent. Were you a vegetarian?
SBA: Good, thank you for asking. No, I am not a vegetarian.
W: I just finished reading "Ann Veronica," a 1909 novel by HG Wells featuring the women's suffrage movement.
SBA: After the first American women's rights convention took place on July 19 and July 20, 1848, in Seneca Falls, New York, I took the opportunity to attend and support the women's rights convention held in Syracuse, New York, in 1852.
W: Did you think women would ever gain the right to vote?
SBA: I died 14 years, 5 months and five days before passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.
W: That is terribly poignant.
SBA: Yes indeed.
W: Thank you for our imaginary conversation, Miss Anthony. Goodbye.
SBA: The Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester, NY was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and was operated as a museum. See you later.