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Monday, July 10 12:00 AM ET

SMS Addicts Get Relief with New Nokia Phone

By Nikolaj Borg

New York , NY - The next generation of Nokia phones will include a built-in pacifier that SMS (or text message) addicts can use to chat off-line.

Since mobile phones became an integrated part of youth culture, parental organizations and addiction treatment clinics have reported an alarming increase in the amount of SMS addicts. While no one has yet been able to cure the addiction, Nokia, the Finnish phone manufacturer, has announced a feature that should make life easier for the reported millions of afflicted users.

While the addicts are normally able to get a constant around-the-clock message fix, they often find themselves in situations where they are unable to send or receive messages. This may be due to network failures or closed accounts due to unpaid bills - or in hospitals and on airplanes where no-phone policies are enforced. In these situations the addicts experience the usual withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, paranoia and the shakes.

Basically an advanced chatbot, the SMS Pacifier uses Bayesian learning to map the language and patterns of the user and his friends. This allows it to read the message and return a proper reply. Wilfred Jones from Nokia said, "It may sound complicated, but if you take some time to decipher the language of today's youth, there isn't much to it. With a data material only 50 to 100 messages, we manage to fool most users."

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Evan Smyrna, who has been addicted to messages for more than three years, has tried a beta version of the pacifier and is thrilled. "A couple of months ago, I had to visit my mother in the hospital. I only managed to stay sane by taking a heavy dose valium and typing on a turned-off phone. The other week I had a three-hour chat session with a buddy without realizing that it was the bot. Finally, I've gotten my freedom back. I've been unable to fly for years, but next week, I'm going to Europe!"

Several phone companies are lobbying to have the new feature banned, as they fear massive drops in SMS earnings.

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