A chatbot is a special computer program or form of artificial intelligence that is designed to simulate a conversation with one or more human users via speech or text.
Chatbots are also known as talk bots, chatterbots, or chatterboxes.
Currently all chatbots work on the principle of recognizing cue words or phrases from a question or answer, which allows them to respond by using pre-prepared or pre-calculated answers or questions of their own.
The First Chatbots
The first chatbots were ELIZA (nlp-addiction.com/eliza/) written by Joseph Weizenbaum in 1966 at MIT's Computer Science Department and programmed as a virtual psychotherapist.
PARRY was written in 1972 by psychiatrist Kenneth Colby, then at Stanford University. The PARRY program implemented a crude role of the behavior of a paranoid schizophrenic based on concepts, conceptualizations, and beliefs. It also embodied a conversational strategy, and as such was a much more serious and advanced program than ELIZA. PARRY simulates paranoid behavior by tracking its own internal emotional state on different dimensions. Colby subjected PARRY to blind tests with doctors questioning both the program and three human patients diagnosed as paranoid. Reviews of the transcripts by both psychiatrists and computer scientists showed that neither group did better than chance in distinguishing the computer from human patients.
RACTER created by programmers Tom Etter and William Chamberlain was once used to "write" a story called The Policeman's Beard is Half Constructed www.ubu.com/historical/racter/index.html)
View some conversations between real people and PARRY, ELIZA and RACTER including chat conversations between these programs to each other at dialogs with colorful personalities of early AI (www.stanford.edu/group/SHR/4-2/text/dialogs.html)/p>
More recent chatbot programs today include Verbots (verbally enhanced software robots), A.L.I.C.E., Jabberwacky, and ELLA.
Jabberwacky, seems closer to being genuinely 'intelligent', as it is claimed to learn new responses based on user interactions, rather than being driven from a static database like most other existing chatterbots. Have a chat with jabberwacky (www.jabberwacky.com) right now, its a fully conversant, amusing bot. Jabberwacky now has more than a million entries in its database.
VERBOTS are a combination of artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and creativity. Verbots are usually various animated characters that can be programmed to answer a wide variety of questions. They are generally designed to be easy to program, graphically flexible, stable and powerful. Examples of VERBOTS can be seen at www.verbots.com where you can download the Verbot application for free and browse through the freely available knowledge-bases to experiment with all the different personalities you can give your verbot.
The ELLA chatbot uses natural language processing to make more useful responses from a human's input. ELLA also includes a range of games and features. Ella won the 2002 Loebner Prize Contest for "Most Human Computer". Ella can play Blackjack, tell I Ching fortunes, and perform functions, complete with language interaction.
A.L.I.C.E.(Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity) (www.alicebot.org) uses a natural language interface. AIML stands for Artificial Intelligence Markup Language, the computer code in which the Alicebot's brain is written. Alicebots learn by "supervised training," which means that the botmaster modifies the AIML files to add new knowledge and make revisions to the responses of the Alicebot brain. AIML was developed by the Alicebot free software community during 1995-2000. It was originally adapted from a non-XML grammar also called AIML. AIML, describes a class of data objects called AIML objects and partially describes the behavior of computer programs that process them. You can find more interesting information on AIML at The Slashdot Interview (www.pandorabots.com/pandora/pics/wallaceaimltutorial.html)
Bad Chatbots in Chat rooms
Sometimes malicious chatterbots are used in chat rooms and IM's (instant messengers) for the purpose of spamming and advertising, and even to encourage chat users into revealing their personal information, such as credit card or bank account numbers. These Chatterbots can even be found on chat giants such as AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger.
Here are some chatbots you can try or download:
BRIAN (www.strout.net/info/science/ai/brian/) is a computer program that thinks it is an 18 year old college student. It was written as an entry in the 1998 Loebner Competition, where it won third place out of six entries.
Daisy (leedberg.com/glsoft/daisy/index.shtml) - Daisy has been actively developed since 2000, entirely by Gregory G. Leedberg. Daisy chatbot has no pre-programmed (or hard coded) language of any kind. She starts with no knowledge but is able to gain knowledge as she observes what you say. From this, she is able to remember patterns of words, and the probability of these patterns occurring. Using this data, Daisy is able to actually generate her own original sentences.
Create your Own Chatbots:
Pandorabots (www.pandorabots.com/botmaster/en/home) is a place online where you can create and unleash virtual personalities. Pandorabots is an experimental software robot hosting service based on the work of Dr. Richard Wallace and the A.L.I.C.E./AIML free software community.