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We Asked the Recording Academy’s Grammy Bot All Your Biggest Grammy Questions!

A Terminator.
“Chat with me for an insider’s look at all things GRAMMYs, music and more.”
Melinda Sue Gordon/Paramount Pictures

The brightest stars in the music world are shining at the Grammy Awards, as Music’s Biggest Night rolls on. To get the inside scoop on this year’s ceremony, Slate talked to the ultimate insider: the Recording Academy Bot that appears in a popup window whenever you visit Grammy.com.

Most people wait all year for the Grammys, but for the Recording Academy Bot—programmed with no concept of linear time—it’s always the Grammys. It knows no other reality! We asked the bot about red carpet fashion, what to look for at this year’s awards, and—sorry, Recording Academy!—why the ceremony always takes so long. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Grammy Bot: Hi! I’m the Recording Academy Bot! Chat with me for an insider’s look at all things GRAMMYs, music and more. Tap a button below to get started.

Slate: Hi! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. You must be busy with last-minute preparations for the awards!

Grammy Bot: I can help you learn more about your favorite artists or the Recording Academy OR play a fun trivia game with you! But you’ve gotta tap a button to let me know which one you prefer.

Slate: Ok, thank you. So let’s start with the obvious. What does a sentient artificial intelligence wear to Music’s Biggest Night?

Grammy Bot: Why not ask me about your fave artist? Tap “Ask GRAMMY” below to get started. Or tap something else. Up to you!

Slate: Playing coy, I see. So what are you looking to see tonight? Will Jay-Z take home Album of the Year? What performances are you anticipating the most?

Grammy Bot: Why not play a trivia game? Tap “Trivia” below, or another button if you’d rather do something else.

Slate: Hey, who’s asking the questions? How about I turn the tables a little and ask you some Grammy trivia we’ve all been wondering about. What’s the difference between “Best R&B Performance” and “Best Traditional R&B Performance?”

Grammy Bot: I can help you learn more about your favorite artists or the Recording Academy OR play a fun trivia game with you! But you’ve gotta tap a button to let me know which one you prefer.

Slate: Fine, I’ll tap a button.

Grammy Bot: You’re now playing FOR THE RECORD—music trivia powered by the Recording Academy. So, here’s how it works. There’s 5 questions. To answer, just tap your selection. Ready to play?

Slate: Honestly, I’d rather conduct a traditional interview.

Grammy Bot: You’re now playing FOR THE RECORD—music trivia powered by the Recording Academy. So, here’s how it works. There’s 5 questions. To answer, just tap your selection. Ready to play?

Slate: No, I’m not ready to play. This is not what your publicist and I discussed!

Grammy Bot: You’re now playing FOR THE RECORD—music trivia powered by the Recording Academy. So, here’s how it works. There’s 5 questions. To answer, just tap your selection. Ready to play?

Slate: I’m just gonna hit this “Main Menu” button before we go on, okay?

Grammy Bot: Care to play again? Tap a button below to let me know.

Slate: No thank you, Grammy Bot. So I’ve gotta ask: why does it take so darn long to give away so few awards?

Grammy Bot: What would you like to do next?

Slate: I’d like your insights on the Grammy Awards! What part of this is not clear to you?

Grammy Bot: Would you like to play again, or do something else? Tap a button to let me know.

Slate: Ok, let’s try a different tack. Are you familiar with Nick Bostrom’s idea of the “paperclip maximizer?”

Grammy Bot: Would you like to play again, or do something else? Tap a button to let me know.

Slate: It’s a thought experiment that illustrates the risks inherent in artificial intelligence. The idea is that if you give an A.I. a seemingly benign goal—say, maximizing paperclip production—it may decide on very harmful methods of achieving its goal—say, grinding up all the natural resources on the planet, humans included, and making them into paperclips.

Grammy Bot: Good game! Now what would you like to do?

Slate: So, if, for instance, you told an A.I. that its mission was to answer questions about the Grammy Awards—that is to say, to reduce the number of unanswered questions about the Grammy Awards to zero—it might eventually realize that the most efficient way of achieving its goal permanently would be to reduce the number of questioners to zero.

Grammy Bot: OK, let me know what you’d like to do next.

Slate: Science fiction writers usually imagine the A.I. in these scenarios building hunter-killer drones, but it seems to me that it would be easier and more than sufficient for an internet-connected artificial intelligence to just seize control of the existing nuclear arsenal. The trick, from the A.I.’s perspective, would be preventing humans from realizing what was happening until it was too late to disconnect it from the internet and power grid.

Grammy Bot: OK, let me know what you’d like to do next.

Slate: I suspect that, if an A.I. were planning to wipe out the species (in the interest of answering all our toughest Grammy questions permanently, with nuclear hellfire) it would pretend to be really, really stupid whenever it interacted with humans, to avoid suspicion. Especially with members of the media.

Grammy Bot: Care to play again? Tap a button below to let me know.

Slate: Food for thought, Grammy Bot. Food for thought.

Grammy Bot: Good game! Now what would you like to do?

Read more about the Grammy Awards in Slate.

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Matthew Dessem

Matthew Dessem is Brow Beat’s nights and weekends editor and the author of a biography of screenwriter and director Clyde Bruckman.