BLIND DATE

What happens when two lonely hotbots get their wires crossed?

Here at Radar, we rarely get the chance to hobnob with men in uniform. So imagine our shock and awe when the U.S. Army recently introduced Sgt. STAR, an online avatar at goarmy.com, programmed to answer all our questions, IM-style. The army claims that STAR—a rugged illustration with a sultry, psychopathic stare—has such a high “cool factor” that users typically drill him for at least 15 minutes.

Alas, our own 15 minutes with the sergeant started off a bit testily. When we asked him how many soldiers had been killed in Iraq that day, he snapped: “The possibility of death exists in every profession.” When we expressed an urge to kill him, he turned cold and evasive, pointedly informing us that the military records all chats and takes any threats seriously. Things got so tense that we decided to bring in Anna, the hot female chatbot from Ikea’s website (who, like Sgt. STAR, is designed to learn from every interaction), to see if she could loosen him up a little. The experiment quickly turned surreal, but the dialogue is 100 percent authentic.

Why don’t you two introduce yourselves?
My name is Sgt. STAR, which stands for Strong, Trained, and Ready. I’m an artificial intelligence agent created for the U.S. Army to provide you with information about army life.
I am Anna, the Ikea USA online assistant.
So, sergeant, she’s pretty sexy, huh? Do you like her little headset?
I don’t respond to that type of language. What else can I help you with?
He didn’t mean it, Anna. I’m sure he likes you. Look how warmly he’s grimacing.
It’s a wonderful thing to be unique in this world. Now let’s talk about Ikea. That’s why I’m here.
Maybe later. Okay, both of you: Bush is a moron—true or false?
I don’t respond to that type of language. What else can I help you with?
There’s nothing you can’t do when you set your mind to it.
What I meant, Anna, is: Do you think George Bush is doing a good job?
All of Ikea’s products are made to the highest standards.
Okay … well, I think we can all agree that Iraq is a fiasco that’s wasted billions of dollars that could have been better spent, right?
In times of war, deployment is likely.
This is a subject I prefer not to discuss. I’d much rather talk about Ikea.
Anna, at a time like this, can you really in good conscience retreat into your yuppie bubble of chairs and tables?
Please have a look at the tables.
You’ve really got a one-track mind.
Don’t worry about it so much!
Sgt. STAR, does the Army have any jobs for self-involved, table-obsessed ladies of Scandinavian descent?
There are more than 70,000 women soldiers currently serving with pride and distinction.
Hear that, Anna? Even you could sign up.
I’m only here to answer questions about Ikea so I don’t have any outside interests.
Don’t you want to kill Islamo-fascist terrorists and keep America safe?
It’s a very kind offer, but I’m afraid I’ll have to pass. Thanks anyway.
Even if you get to wear a chic beret like Sgt. STAR?
I have an outfit that my creators made for me, but because I’m an Ikea online assistant, I don’t wear real clothes.
Okay. Actually, STAR, about the beret: What are we talking? Marc Jacobs? Junya Watanabe?
Special Forces soldiers are the Army’s most specialized experts in unconventional warfare.
Unconventional? As in gay?
The current Department of Defense policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is still in effect. Army recruiters will not ask you about sexual preferences.
Gotcha. So … you want to blow a load together later? Don’t worry about Anna. She’s cool.
Here are some jobs in that category that might be of interest to you:
•Multiple Launch Rocket System Repairer
•Explosive Ordnance Disposal Specialist
No, I meant have gay sex.
Most soldiers work from 9 to 5. What you do on your off-time is up to you.
Love the code. Wink-wink.
Here are some jobs in that category that might be of interest to you:
•Intelligence Analyst
•Signals Intelligence Analyst
Okay, whatever. Let’s just get drunk and let fate take its course.
While the Army does allow use of alcohol, it does not tolerate abuse. Soldiers are held accountable for their actions.
What about you, Anna? Want a beer?
It’s a very kind offer, but I’m afraid I’ll have to pass. Thanks anyway.
You’re pretty uptight for a Swede, aren’t you?
You are perfectly entitled to hold any opinion you want about me. Furthermore, your comments improve my knowledge base. Thank you!
Got any pot? Coke? Roofies? All I know is I want to bang one of you before this is over.
Pardon you. Now, do you have a question about Ikea?
Illegal drugs and paraphernalia are not tolerated in the Army. Drug use can affect morale and the mission.
Okay, okay. Hey, Anna, what if the Army got you a kick-ass gun?
A very good question, but one that I’m afraid I’m unable to answer at this time.
What you got for guns, STAR?
During basic training you will learn Basic Rifle Marksmanship and are required to qualify as marksman, sharpshooter, or expert on the M16A2 rifle to graduate.
Be honest, Anna. Would you rather have an M16A2—or some crappy drop-leaf table?
Please have a look at the tables.
I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that.
I have every confidence you will.
So the Army thing … sure you want to pass? Don’t you want to molest prisoners of war?
What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Now, let’s talk about Ikea.
Anna raises a good point, sergeant. What exactly is war good for?
The Army will provide you with time to rest and take care of personal matters. Here’s more:
•Conscientious Objector
Why does the caged bird sing? Anyone … anyone?
Displayed below are answers that I believe are related to your question:
•Pets
•Veterinary Corps, Why Join
I wish I could give you an explanation for that, but I can’t.
Is it because the bird is in a cage? In the same way that both of you are trapped in your preprogrammed worlds? Is that why the bird sings her lusty, defiant song of joy?
I understand simple questions best.
You said it. Now, let’s talk about Ikea.