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Dec 22nd, 2013
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  1. So exists, which reminded me of the woman who talked to Clippy. This is a true story.
  3. What a lot of people didn’t realize was that Clippy, by default, sent anything you asked it to Microsoft, anonymized.
  5. No evil intent. We had no idea who asked what. It was a way of knowing what we’d screwed up. Lots of queries on a topic? Bad feature design.
  7. One day one of the PMs in charge of monitoring Clippy’s logs found a story, told in fragments.
  9. Somebody, probably a woman in the US Midwest, was typing a sentence at a time. Clippy would answer nonsensically. She’d type another one.
  11. She’d lost her job. Her boyfriend was beating her. She was so lonely, and so afraid. All her waking nightmares, told to a paperclip.
  13. We couldn’t help. We didn’t know who she was. We’d gone to great lengths to make sure that we COULD not know who she was.
  15. So we read her story. One sentence after another. Soul-searing honesty, told to a little paperclip that could never, ever answer her.
  17. I often wonder what happened to that woman. I hope she’s okay. I hope she’s happy.
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