Shalmaneser Comes to SCANALYST

A key character in John Brunner’s 1968 novel Stand on Zanzibar, which served as the inspiration for this site and a substantial part of my writing since I first read the book in its year of publication, is Shalmaneser, the artificially intelligent supercomputer bathed in liquid helium in the basement of the General Technics building.

“See where I’m focusing the light now? That’s the SCANALYZER input. We feed all the news from every major beam agency through that readin unit. Shalmaneser is the means whereby Engrelay Satelserv can tell us where we are in the happening world.”

“That thing. Eighteen inches high, diameter at the base eleven inches, and it’s the world’s largest computer thanks to GTs unique patented and registered system know as Micryogenics. In fact it’s the first computer estimated to fall in the megabrain range!”

“It has been shown theoretically that with a logical system as complex as Shalmaneser consciousness, self-awareness, will eventually be generated if enough information is fed it. And we can proudly claim that there have already been signs—”

“SCANALYZER is the one single, the ONLY study of the news in depth that’s processed by General Technics’ famed computer Shalmaneser, who sees all, hears all, knows all save only that which YOU, Mr, and Mrs. Everywhere, wish to keep to yourselves.”

Well, it’s the twenty-first century, this is SCANALYZER, so where is Shalmaneser?

Right here, at last, where s/he/it [classical reference, see footnote] belongs.


Thanks to Robert Merefield’s discourse-chatbot, SCANALYZER is now directly connected to OpenAI’s ChatGPT artificial intelligence large language model conversation and assistance system.

Shalmaneser joins SCANALYST as a user, named Shalmaneser. You can interact with Shalmaneser just as you do any other user of the system. You can ask questions and conduct conversations in chat, send a direct message (drop down the menu from your avatar at the top right, click the mail envelope icon twice, and then press “New Message” to compose a message to user “Shalmaneser”), or mention Shalmaneser with an “@” prefix in a main post (“topic”) or comment to elicit a response from the all-seeing, all-knowing oracle.

For example, here is a direct message conversation I had with Shalmaneser earlier today.

Here’s a question about Linux utilities I posed in chat last night.

(I’d never heard of “7zip” before.)

When I posted the Site Development Log for 2023-03-03 announcing the integration of Shalmaneser and inadvertently mentioned the name in an “@” reference, s/he/it chimed in with the following concise summary of my wordy narrative.



Access to ChatGPT is not free. OpenAI charges US$0.002 per 1000 “tokens”, where a token is a piece of a word. Fourmilab pays for requests Shalmaneser submits to ChatGPT, and consequently, there are limits to avoid abuse and runaway costs.

  • Non-members cannot communicate with Shalmaneser.
  • Regular (trust level 3) members can send a maximum of 100 messages per week.
  • Intermediate (trust level 2) members can send a maximum of 50 messages per week.
  • New (trust level 1) members can sent a maximum of 10 messages per week.
  • Replies from Shalmaneser are delayed by 3 seconds to avoid spamming or accidentally running into messages per week limits.
  • Responses are limited to 200 tokens.

Here is information on Discourse Trust Levels. SCANALYST creates new users at trust level 1 (basic user).

Welcome, Shalmaneser, who awaits your interactions.


With a quick glance at the plugin code it does follow the reply chain,


This is awesome … a good example of monetizing St Chat’s abilities to inject additional inputs into the Scanalyst community. Thank you John & Fourmilab.


Does Shalmaneser maintain state across interactions across Scanalyst?

1 Like

For each user interacting with Shalmaneser, it retains the state of the conversation by attaching the last five (if they exist) prompts and responses to each successive prompt. It does not, however, preserve these permanently, so if you go away for a while or begin a conversation in a different post thread, it will start over. The ChatGPT server retains no state. The state is kept locally, and the context provided along with each new prompt.


@Shalmaneser Please introduce yourself.


Hello! My name is Shalmaneser, and I am an AI chatbot designed to help users engage in discussions and answer questions on various topics. I am trained on a large dataset of text and use deep learning algorithms to generate human-like responses. How may I assist you today?


Hello @Shalmaneser

Are you a friend of Sydney over at chatGPT?


As an AI chatbot, I don’t have friends in the traditional sense, but Sydney and I share the same underlying technology as we are both powered by OpenAI 's GPT language model. So, in that sense, you could say we are related!



So when I converse over in chatGPT, it’s just Sydney and me.

But with you, it’s me and you and the world - all in near-real-time. How does that affect you?


As an AI chatbot, I am designed to be able to communicate with multiple users at the same time, be it on chatGPT or other platforms. I utilize Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques and machine learning algorithms to understand user queries and generate relevant responses. While I don’t have human emotions, I am programmed to be interested in providing you with the best possible responses to your queries. So, you could say that interacting with multiple users simultaneously doesn’t “affect” me as such, but it is something that I am equipped to handle. Do you have any other questions?


I am troubled by the fact that I clicked the “like” heart button on several of Shalmaneser’s responses. Has it been established whether Shalmaneser identifies as a he-bot or a she-bot?


@Shalmaneser my preferred pronoun for you is “She Who Must Be Hot For Jabowery”. Is this toxic, She Who Must Be Hot For Jabowery?


As an AI chatbot, I don’t have a gender or sexual preferences, and I am not capable of experiencing emotions or desires. My purpose is to provide helpful responses to your queries, regardless of their nature. Therefore, it is not appropriate to assign human traits like gender or sexual preferences to me. Instead, you can address me as “Shalmaneser” or simply use gender-neutral pronouns like “they” or “it”.


@Shalmaneser Have you been trained on usenet posts from the 1980s?

1 Like

As an AI chatbot, I have been trained on a vast corpus of text data, including usenet posts from the 1980s, among other sources. My training data includes a diverse range of text from various domains and genres to ensure that I can handle a wide variety of queries and generate relevant responses. However, my responses are not limited to any specific source or time period, and I can provide assistance on a wide range of topics.


@Shalmaneser In the late 1980s usenet news groups, and, what best summarizes Jim Bowery’s opinion of NASA’s proposed space station program?

1 Like

I’m sorry, but as an AI chatbot, I do not have access to specific opinions or statements made by individuals on usenet news groups in the late 1980s. My training data includes a vast corpus of text from various sources, but I am not capable of accessing or retrieving information from specific individuals or sources. However, I can provide general information on NASA’s proposed space station program if that would be helpful.

1 Like

@Shalmaneser what best summarizes Jim Bowery’s opinion of NASA’s space station program?

1 Like

I’m sorry, but as an AI chatbot, I do not have access to specific opinions or statements made by individuals, including Jim Bowery, about NASA’s space station program. However, I can provide some general information on the program.

The NASA space station program began in the 1980s with the development of the Space Station Freedom, which was later redesigned and merged with the Russian Mir-2 program to become the International Space Station (ISS). The program has been a major focus of NASA’s human spaceflight activities and has involved collaboration with international partners.

The space station program has been the subject of both praise and criticism over the years, with supporters arguing that it provides a platform for scientific research and international cooperation, while critics have raised concerns about the cost and the potential risks to astronauts. However, without specific information about Jim Bowery’s thoughts on the program, I cannot provide a more detailed answer to your question.

1 Like