January 24th, 2006

Andrei in the office

Turing chess, mate in 14 moves

A long time ago there was "Eliza"

Eliza was... Eliza is... A computer program. She is 40 years old this year. You would talk to Eliza and it would respond to you. I've linked above to wikipedia's entry on her. But to give a quick summary, she could take apart your sentence and turn it into a responding question.

User: My Head Hurts
Eliza: Why do you say your head hurts?
U: My mother hates me
E: Who else in your family hates you

Eventually, someone created Zippy which was a random "Zippy the pinhead" quotation generator. Zippy was an alternative comic strip with the central character who primarily spoke in surreal observations.

The urban legend of a major university's computer being taken down by someone unleashing Zippy and Eliza on each other is in fact... just legend. (But none the less fun to think about)

Over time... Eliza bots have increased in their capabilities. They actually can be engaging, informative, and sometimes quite spooky. Some can also suck really badly. (Try AIM's Moviebuddy at some point) This all leads me to dear Dr. Alan Turing. Turing made tests devised to recognize sentience. This is actually a gross over simplification because Turing was actually trying to prove that there was no point to try to devise tests to help deduce if you were talking to a machine or a human... but such is beyond the scope of this post. (Gods I've always wanted to write that)

The Turing test is a proposal for a test of a machine's capability to perform human-like conversation.

So, every now and then I like talking to bots to see how long it will take for me to get a response that says, "Well, gosh... I guess I'm not real and here's an awkward response to prove it."

Looking over my past conversations with my dear jnanacandra. I looked at a link to alicebot. This is basically a web site for people who like to develop Bots. Currently the most popular one is called iGod. Under the cut is my conversation with iGod. It took me frighteningly few lines to cause iGod to really stumble.

If you wish to repent with iGod, you can try it at the iGod site.

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