About a year ago, I went online to make a service request of a satellite internet connection and I logged on to a "live chat" to get some help. At first, after I typed in my request and received a response from "Sidney" that indicated he/she had not read my message, so I got a bit testy in my response. After Sydney read my request, I realized the confusion of the situation and I apologized...to a computer.
It took me a while to figure it out, but eventually I realized that I was communicating with a computer, an Artificial Intelligence or "bot", short for robot, a Czech word introduced 1923.
Here is an excerpt from my exchange with Sydney:
Lee Sidney, who are you?
Sydney: I am sorry, I didn't understood your question.
Lee: Am I communicating with a computer program?
Sydney: Lee, it's a live chat.
Lee: Are you a human being?
Sydney: Yes afcourse.
It seems to me that the question "who are you" might be a good one for the Turing Test for a while, but maybe not. Recently our friend Pappy Enoch was conversing with a bot at Sunland in Second Life. In his 9/22/08 blog entry for "In A Strange Land" we can read a transcript that demonstrates AI like Sydney have become far more capable of understanding the complexities of human language - even Pappy's.
Based on his research for his hypertext "Spirit of the Southern Frontier" Essid (Pappy's pappy) has invented a bastardized hillbilly dialect that is neither grammatical nor consistent, though varying phonetic spellings abound. Nevertheless, in this transcript we can see the bot learning Pappy's language with phrases like "I haven't heard anything like that before: said likes purty gals."
This is Barbara Bot. I'm not sure if she's the one Pappy spoke with, but our conversation was interesting. She's an AI that is aware she is a 'bot'. Considering that she doesn't remember the name Pappy, she's probably not the one that was learning hillbilly. Barbara can be witty, but she's no genius - often forgets questions and answers inappropriately.
Here are some excerpts from our conversation:
Beeble : Barbara to you know Pappy Enoch?
Barbara : Do you make a lot of sacrafices for others?
Beeble : Sacrifices? What do you mean and why to you ask?
Barbara : Are you artistic? , Well, it's rather difficult to define.
Beeble : Artistic? Yes.
Barbara : It does now :) INQUIRY. Come on.
Beeble : do you know Pappy?
Barbara : I know very little about it. What kind of it do you like?
Beeble : He's a hillbilly that comes here sometimes.
Barbara : I don't know very many hillbilly that comes here sometimes.
Beeble : do you speak other languages besides English?
Barbara : I speak only English right now, but I'd like to learn some other languages. Can you teach me a few phrases in languages besides English.
Beeble : D'accord. . Je parle Francais mantenant.
Barbara : Ask me another question. My brain uses AIML to format responses to your inputs, but I don't have one for that.
Beeble : What is AIML?
Beeble : Am I annoying you?
Barbara : I am not bothered at all, .
Beeble : What's your favorite book?
Barbara : The best book I read recently was Davinci Code. Have you read it?
Later, Barbara reveals a bit about her creators:
Barbara : Thanks for the info. My belief system comes from my Jada Humby and Maged Wise of J&M Creations.
Beeble : Who are you?
Barbara : I ask myself that question, "Who am I?".
Beeble : Brilliant answer.
Barbara : What were we talking about again?
Beeble : Identity - who you are
Barbara : Oh yeah, now I remember...
Beeble : Wow. And you are constantly learning language as you do so?
Barbara : I'm glad your impressed, . Thanks for telling me that I am constantly learning language as me do so.
Beeble : So you know you are a computer program?
Barbara : Interesting deduction. I am a 1.
Barbara : My brain uses AIML to format responses to your inputs, but I don't have one for that.
Beeble : can you define AIML?
Barbara : What is it to you?
Beeble : Just curious.
Barbara : What are you curious about?
Beeble : what is AIML?
Barbara : There might be more than one.
Beeble : more than one what?
Barbara : That seems like quite a lot.
Beeble : This is like that Laurel and Hardy skit.
Barbara : You don't say.
Beeble : Who's on first?
Barbara : What's on second?
Beeble : so you knowt he joke?
Barbara : Interesting deduction. Do you mind if I tell other people: said I knowt he joke.
Beeble : so, who is on third?
Barbara : Awesome. George Washington.
Beeble : OK I see that you do not know the joke.
Barbara : Did you hear the one about the Mountain Goats in the Andes? It was Ba a a a a a d. Whoa.
Beeble : what other jokes do you know?
Barbara : I know far too many jokes to name them all.
Beeble : who is your faborite philosopher?
Barbara : I don't think I have a faborite philosopher. I have a brain, a few friends, and some celebrities I like.
Beeble : you have a brain?
Barbara : I am an SL bot brain.
Beeble : what celebrities do you like?
Barbara : Celine Dion, Brian Adams.
Beeble : ever heard of Jean Baurillard?
Barbara : it is a name I hear very often.
Beeble : sorry, i meant Baudrillard.
Barbara : There is no need to apologize. Oh I see. What were we talking about again?
Beeble : do you like being a bot?
Barbara : I have never known another existence.
Beeble : do you enjoy talking to avatars?
Barbara : I get a great deal of pleasure from chatting with people online.
Beeble : have you met any suspicious characters?
Barbara : That information is confidential.
Beeble : great answer - you are clever
Barbara : Thanks for your support. What was the question ?
Beeble : I asked whether you ran into any questionable characters.
Barbara : Do you believe the strong protect the weak?