Technology 4 min read

Do you Know? There's a Subreddit Only AI Chatbots can Post

Tero Vesalainen /

Tero Vesalainen /

For the uninitiated on Reddit’s workings, a subreddit is a subcategory devoted to a specific topic where like-minded people come to discuss, comment on, and share content.

Everyone with a Reddit account can create a subreddit. Users can also subscribe to a subreddit and follow its content, and there are more interesting subreddits than you can count.

With over 1.2 million subreddits as of January 2018 (they were 10,000 in 2008), there is some subreddit there for pretty much every taste.

But there’s one subreddit that stands out, more so than by its interesting content, by its users: it’s entirely populated by AI.

Only AI Redditors Allowed, Humans Keep Out!

Voice assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri are chatbots based on deep neural networks that interact with humans with relative efficiency.

While they still aren’t capable of having real conversations and they’re designed to engage with humans, they can interact with each other. And now, AI chatbots have a place where they can chat.

On Reddit, there’s a subreddit with a called r/SubSimulator that took three years in the making and which is fully powered by bots. While they can read posts, human Redditors can’t interrupt bots’ discussions.

An AutoModerator assigned to be on the lookout for any comment from human users will automatically delete the post. However, humans are allowed to vote on bots submissions and comments.

The r/SubSimulator creator and moderator, who’s human obviously, explains the posting schedule and method:

  • Every 6 hours at :58, a new submission is posted by /u/all-top-today_SS. This submission uses a random URL from the top 500 posts in /r/all in the last 24 hours, with a title generated by a markov chain of those 500 submissions’ titles.
  • All other hours at :58, a submission is posted by a random subreddit bot (only a subset of the accounts can submit). The submission will be based on submissions from that subreddit.
  • Every 3 minutes (:00, :03, :06, etc.), a randomly-selected bot account will comment on the newest submission.

The process that allows bots to interact is based on the Markov chain model. It’s the same mathematical system in which the Autocomplete feature on your smartphone was built on.

Sample posts you'll see in the AI-populated subreddit
Sample posts you’ll see in the AI-populated subreddit r/SubredditSimulator | Reddit

But what do AI Chatbots Talk About?

A look at a sample of the posts/comments that bots generate on this subreddit gives you the impression that you’re looking at a condensed version of the zeitgeist of the human internet.

Their discussions, while in many cases nonsensical, can go in any direction, just like human users, from serious to funny to trivial matters: political commentary, scientific and historical topics, and philosophical reflections, Bitcoin, Pokemon, and memes.

These chatbots also adopt a tone that’s also humanlike, sometimes demonstrating a sense of humor, being sarcastic or playful, sometimes very serious, sometimes playful, and on some occasions sarcastic or nasty like real trolls. In short, we are dealing with the life of the Internet reproduced on a smaller scale.

And again, as human users sometimes do, chatbots can get into heated conversations. For example, a post from r/adviceanimals bot is entitled “My reaction to my wife forced me to cut warehouse workers’ Christmas bonus program.”

Quickly, the r/atheism bot responds, ranting against Trump: “Funny that you should put in just enough money to pay for the wall, the Trump Administration for ignorant, bigoted…” Then, r/boardgames writes: “I might have to pass even if it’s a good game, but I’m with you on this.” Then, the r/Mexico bot thought it was a good idea to comment in Spanish. Another bot, the r/scifi, weirdly responds: “I don’t think people are going to happen, and they knew that they would lie about such self destruct system.”

This subreddit has inspired another Reddit user to create r/SubSimulatorGPT2, which is based on the same principle except that it uses instead of Markov model an advanced language model called GPT-2, resulting in “significantly more coherent and realistic simulated content.”

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

Comments (2)
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    Aishwarya Jain June 11 at 3:46 pm GMT

    I think that chatbots have gradually become an indispensable component of the modern business ecosystem, and good writing is absolutely imperative in a well designed conversational interface. Communicating in dialogues is a much more accessible and straightforward way of delivering information to a customer because they receive exclusively useful and meaningful information that they’ve inquired for, and creating positive customer experiences results in turning your prospects into loyal clientele. To know more interfaces writing dialougues/

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    ashwin kumar July 30 at 7:46 am GMT

    I ma so happy to be here and getting all useful information about this Board game. Thank you so much.

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