Inspired by A Bot

Can you fall in love with a bot? I know that you can certainly be fascinated by one. I was, when I first encountered AliceBot, several years ago. But here is a fascinating story shared on AIZone (a forum to discuss AI bots) by Richard Wallace

On the Online Origins of the Film
The initial idea came from an article I saw online which talked about a site where you could instant message with artificial intelligence. I think it was called Alicebot. I went to it and said, “How are you?” It said, “How are you?” And I said “Not so good, I’m tired,” and it said, “That’s too bad.” So we had this little exchange and I got this buzz, thinking, “Wow I’m actually talking to this thing!” And then it quickly devolved; you could tell it was just parroting things that it had heard before and wasn’t actually intelligent. I didn’t really think about it for a long time, and then I thought about a man in a relationship with an entity like that and the idea of what would happen if you used that as a way to write a love story.

I have been showing Alicebot to students for a couple of years now.  There are two instances of projects (less romantic than the one described above) inspired by Alicebot.

One was about a student doing his Masters in Computer Science. He was referred to me by one of my friends and I suggested that he look at an AI Bot for his project. He implemented a small Python app using AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language) and built a help application for Sugar CRM.

One of the most gratifying things that happened about 6 months ago was how two students at KCG Innovation Cell, got inspired by Alicebot to rethink their user interface to helpdesk app they were building. They were inspired enough to go and learn a new programming language (Python) and a bit of AIML. I think they will get more time to work this semester and I hope they persist, and share their experience.

Lots of activity in the AI bot space. The best way to keep track is to subscribe and follow discussions at AI Zone.  There is a new version of AIML in the works –  AIML2  and now there is ChatScript. I see quite a few opportunities to make interactions with computers more interesting for both adults and kids. Hopefully I will get to work on a couple of projects, soon.

From a paper on writing a Chatbot

ChatScript is a scripting language and engine for responding to meaning. It has been used to write chatbots which carry on an entertaining conversation. Even a chatbot that pretends to be a patient to help train doctors on diagnostic interviews.

But chat isn’t its only use. ChatScript has planning capability, and could be used to allow a robot to carry out plans it synthesizes in response to verbal instruction. We have also used ChatScript to determine the intent of an Amazon product search and either better reorder search results from Amazon or to perform a more successful replacement search if Amazon’s search breaks down. And ChatScript has been used to provide natural language mapping into appropriate SQL queries on the Dun and BradStreet business database.