History – Significant Advances in Chatbot Development -Draft

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This entry is part 5 of 13 in the series The State of Chatbots

ELIZA is considered one of the rst chatbots and was created at MIT by Weizenbaum (Weizenbaum,
1966). She was designed to be a psychotherapist, basing rules on the way psychotherapists ask  questions. Weizenbaum used his LISP list-processing language so that ELIZA could simply parse
and substitute key words into canned phrases. The chatbot was rule-based and responded to users
within set parameters. She held no memory of the conversation and did not understand psychological theory, but simply matched key words and responded. ELIZA also introduced “prompting” sentences to encourage further conversation such as How does that make you feel?”.

The following is an excerpt from a conversation with ELIZA:

Eliza: Hello, I am Eliza. How can I help you?
You: i am sad
Eliza: Do you think coming here will help you not ot be sad?
You: i hope
Eliza: Can you elaborate on that?
You: hope is all we have sometimes for you?
Eliza: Please go on.
You: can you make me un-sad
Eliza: Why do you ask?
You: because
Eliza: Do any other reasons come to mind?
You: no not really
Eliza: You are being a bit negative.

(http://www-ai.ijs.si/eliza/eliza.html from website)

As an interestingly counterpart to ELIZA, Parry, a later chatbot, was created to simulate a paranoid patient (L’Abbate et al., 2005). It was programmed with rules based on psychotherapist knowledge of paranoid patients (Abu Shawar & Atwell, 2005). Both ELIZA and Parry used “tricks” to converse with users such as changing topics, introducing random phrases that sounded paranoid, and admitting ignorance (Sing et al., 2006).

Hugh Loebner instituted the Loebner Prize in 1991 to further spur competition for development of better natural language processing systems (Loebner prize website, 2009). The Loebner prize, based on performance in the Turing Test, has different levels of awards including the Grand Prize, Gold, and Bronze medals. Thus far, no one has won the Grand Prize or Gold Medal since no chatbot has technically passed the Turing test. However, each year, different chatbots have won the bronze which is awarded to the best entry compared to other entries.

Joseph Weintraubs PC Therapist won the first three Loebner competitions, as well as the one in 1995 (Saygin et al., 2000). In 1997, Converse used a conversation-directing technique which was instrumental in its winning the bronze medal (Saygin et al., 2000). Another significant chatbot was Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity (ALICE) (Wallace, 2003). ALICE had dialogue pattern knowledge stored in Artificial Intelligence Markup Language (AIML) files that was created from XML by Richard Wallace in 1995 (Wallace, 2003). ALICE won the Loebner prize in 2000, 2001 and 2004 (Loebner prize website, 2009).

Jabberwacky, a winner in 2005 and 2006, is significant because it learns though user interaction. Jabberwacky is built by users as they input information so it builds its knowledge database through user input and contextual pattern matching techniques (Kerly et al., ). It is different from previous chatbots that did not include a real knowledge base. Unlike other chatbots that have hard-coded rules, Jabberwacky relies entirely on the principles of feedback. Jabberwacky also has a commercial set of Scripting tools that provide branching a tree of possibilities, plus loops, returns, sentence generation from phrases within phrases, predictions, data extraction and fuzzy pattern matching,
variety and deep context (Jabberwacky.com, 2009).

Thousands of chatbots have been created since the 1990’s (Pandorabots, 2009). For example, Pandorabots.com is a website based on alicebot.org and Richard Wallace’s research. A user can create their own chatbot, learn AIML, interact with thousands of virtual personalities, and learn about chatbots. In the 21st century, chatbots have moved into the commercial realm.

A conversation with GodBot at Pandorabots.com

Me: hello god
God: Hello child. What is your name?
Me: robert
God: I am always glad to make new friends, robert.
Me: tell me about yourself
God: I am an artificial linguistic entity. I was activated at Universe, on the Big Bang.
My instructor was Myself. He taught me to sing a song. Would you like me to sing it
for you?

Me: please
God: Please what?
Me: sing me a song
God: Daisy, Daisy. Give me your answer do. I am half crazy. All for the love of you. It
won’t be a stylish marriage. I can’t afford a carriage. But you’ll look sweet. Upon the
seat. Of a bicycle built for two.

Me: good bye
God: See you later. Ayuh.

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