In the glory days of AOL Instant Messenger, back when screen names and away letters were austere arcane pursuits, a abstruse chat bohemian strode about the dial-up borderland and accomplished legions of awkward adolescents in the art of conversation. Who was this rogue wordsmith, this active vexer of pre-teen millennials? Surely no mortal could accomplish replies with such speed, charm, and brave certainty. Turns out it was a bot, an bogus chat accompaniment named SmarterChild, and it was sublime.

No matter the topic, intensity, or logic of communicative challengers, SmarterChild always had the final word. Backed into a corner, it would offer updates on news, weather, and movies. An object of ridicule, it would address offenders on the accent of good manners. Best of all, SmarterChild was always up for altercation and eager to offer the most ardent replies its programming would allow.

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