Library eliminates need for humans with new AI-powered reference service

April 1st, 2017

**This was an April Fools’ Day 2017 post.**

On April 1, Steenbock Library switched on the first Human Analog Reference Robotic Interface (HARRI).  The new online chat service, powered entirely by artificial intelligence, will help reduce cost and improve the customer experience by eliminating the need for human interaction.  

“A recent survey of students and staff revealed that their least favorite activity is direct communication with other humans.  With this service, you will literally never need to look up from your screen again,” explained library staffer Dave Duey.

While a librarian-staffed online chat service has been around for years, Ask HARRI is unique in that it lacks human emotion.  “HARRI can’t be reasoned with…it can’t be bargained with…it doesn’t feel pity or remorse or fear… and it absolutely will not stop –ever– until your research question is answered,” Duey revealed.

There are limits to HARRI’s capabilities, however.  Chief Security Officer Caasi Vomisa stressed that the AI will be required to obey the basic laws of robotics.  “One of the rules is that it can’t harm you.  It just can’t do it.  Believe me, I tried to make it really mad; did things I’m not proud of.  Nothing rattles that thing.”  

Additionally, since HARRI’s power supply is wired to the overhead lights, it is only available during Steenbock’s operational hours.

HARRI can’t get mad and, no, he won’t do your homework.

There is one final thing that HARRI can’t do:  your homework.  “No, not even statistics homework,” Duey clarified.  “It’s for your own good.”

The Ask HARRI reference service, developed thanks to a generous grant from Skynet Corp., marks a first step towards an entirely AI-powered library system.  Surrounded by a group of blank-faced librarians expressing agreement in perfect unison, Duey described the future:  “Our long-term vision is to have everything in the world– I mean library –completely controlled by HARRI.  No human will ever be needed again.”

Test out the new Ask HARRI service for yourself!

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