Spam Intelligence

Yesterday I received a notification that someone had left a comment on my “Talk Like A Pirate Day” post from last year, in which I discussed the University of Michigan’s purchase of a print-on-demand bookmaking machine. The title of the post was “Arrr, Another Brick” (sc., “another brick taken away from the wall that separates readers from access to books).
The comment in question, still awaiting approval in my comment queue, says,

Getting good construction bricks in Michigan might not be as easy as it would first seem. I was fairly new to the market, so I jumped in thinking that I could make a couple phone calls and line something up for my masonry project. I never realized the large number of choices that would be presented to me when trying to install a simple stone fireplace. After talking to Lincoln Brick and Supply (hyperlink deleted by blog owner), I realized that it takes some thought and energy when making decisions about this particular building supply. Needless to say, Lincoln Brick was able to take their time and help me make choices for my custom building project. They were a great help, and I look forward to working with them in the future.

I reproduce the comment here not because I endorse Lincoln Brick — that’s why I stripped the hyperlinks out — but because this exemplifies spam’s evolution toward something that begins to resemble intelligence. The progress from just blind-mailing sales pitches to the whole internet, to blind-spam-commenting blogs, to selectively adding spam comments to blogs that seem to pertain to the spammers’ commercial interests, suggests the frightening possibility that if someone ever devises machine intelligence that passes the Turing Test, it might just be a spammer.

Oh, and I also reproduced the ad-comment here so that potential customers who turn up this post in their search results will have the opportunity to know that Lincoln Bricks — whatever the virtues of their products — seems to have resorted to comment-spamming. Make your construction-materials decisions accordingly. Me — I just clicked the “Delete” button.

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