AT&T’s new chat bot is named Atticus, presumably after Atticus Finch, the dad-lawyer in the famed Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Or perhaps after Gregory Peck’s portrayal of the World’s Greatest Dad-Lawyer in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird. Maybe it’s named after the super old and very racist Atticus Finch who appears in Harper Lee’s 2015 novel Go Set a Watchman? Hopefully not?
In any case, Atticus the AT&T bot will talk at you about pop culture for hours. He has all kinds of fun trivia about television programs, and according to this video he’s “a goofball!” Also according to this promotional video, “It’s hard to believe he’s not real!”
In Atticus’ own words about himself: “If the Dunphy family is looking for another kid, I’d be happy to join them. I’d be no trouble. Especially since I don’t physically exist. We’d be a real Modern Family.” While Atticus knows a great deal about Modern Family, he appears to know very little about actual families.
He’ll give you fun facts about many different TV shows, including but not limited to How to Get Away with Murder, Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, American Horror Story, Pretty Little Liars, and, for some reason, The Office, which ended years ago. It’s nice. A bot that keeps you company through a day of binging on Netflix alone is sort of great idea.
Also, I don’t have enough friends to designate one as my “water cooler conversation” person for each of the 100 television shows I now watch (thank you, golden age of TV!). This feels like a common problem, and maybe bots are the answer.
Unfortunately Atticus isn’t really the ideal audience for me either.
Is there no one in this world — human or bot — who is invested in the careers of Coach Taylor, Jessica Lange’s ex-boyfriend, Fiyero from Wicked, and Emmy-winning Star War guy Ben Mendelsohn? Apparently not. I could follow Atticus’s instruction and contact AT&T’s customer support line, though, to be frank, AT&T customer support is the last place I would go to discuss the complex moral conundrums faced regularly by the Rayburn family.
But you know what they say about the last place you look — that’s always where you find what you’re looking for!