But it turns out that marketers are working diligently to develop forms of mass-generated mail that appear to have been patiently and lovingly hand-written by actual humans. They’re using handwriting robots that wield real pens on paper. These machines cost up to five figures, but produce letters that seem far more “human”. (You can see one of the robots in action in the video adjacent.) This type of robot is likely what penned the address on the junk-mail envelope that fooled me. I saw ink on paper, subconsciously intuited that it had come from a human (because hey, no laser-printing!) and opened it.
Handwriting, it seems, is the next Turing Test.
This shouldn’t be surprising. The quest to get people to open spam and malware online has, in the last decade, produced some of the most innovative and hilarious attempts to make robots seem human. (My favorite was the mid-00s wave of spambots that quoted classic literature in an attempt to thwart Bayesian filters designed to recognize penis-enlargement invocations.)
So now robots are trying to write like us. But they’re not perfect yet! It turns out there are some intriguing quirks of human psychology and letter-formation that the machines can’t yet mimic. Learn those tricks, and you can spot the robots.
Mir war bisher nicht bekannt, dass es Handschriftenroboter gibt. Die Qualität ist nicht schlecht, wenn auch ein gutes Stück weg von der Perfektion. Dennoch dürften Marketiers jetzt schon das Ziel erreichen: Ein mit Tinte handgeschriebener Brief findet mehr Beachtung als eine herkömmliche Werbeaussendung.