[MUD-Dev] Chatbots

Adam Martin ya_hoo_com at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 26 10:19:00 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Tresca" <talien at toast.net>

> I wouldn't dismiss chatbots so quickly.  See:

>   http://aimovie.warnerbros.com/html/flash.html.

> That silly AI chatbot (actually ALICE) managed to fool many, many
> people merely because there COULD be a person occasionally
> inserting a real sentence in with the automated responses.

> Chatbots have more in common with magicians than parrots.  They
> create the illusion of something genuine that, under careful
> examination, could not feasibly exist.  Chatbots have just enough
> misdirection to allow the illusion of conversation.

> This has a lot to do with the extremely poor grammar of lazy
> writers and readers than the linguistic capabilities of a chatbot.
> Chatbots have at times proved more eloquent and intelligent than
> other players I've communicated with in MMORPGs (d00d3s, for
> example).

> Want to make your NPCs lifelike?

>   1) Stop making NPCs obviously NPCs.  Everyone gets the same kind
>   of description modifiers (be it titles, colors, whatever).

>   2) Make the basic conversation object a chatbot.

Chatbots can work surprisingly well in tightly-defined
situations. For instance, if you can manufacture a situation where
the human believes the person they are talking to actually is a
little insane, and possibly also pedantic and possessed of an innate
pleasure at irritating people, then a chatbot can be completely
believable. However, without those things its pretty much dead in
the water about 10 seconds after the human begins to suspect,
because of the aforementioned MAJOR problem (that IMHO makes
chatbots boring and pointless) that they have no (significant)
state: they merely work by pattern matching on the current input.

All you have to do is ask it a few questions in a row that depend
upon each other and NOT on what the last reply was (many chatbots
remember their last reply to provide very limited context
sensitivity). Even better, design a cycle of questions that (due to
context) need different answers, and the chatbot dies horribly.
I've seen a lot of (non-computer) people try this without prompting,
and mainly realise it was a bot within 30 seconds to a couple of
minutes (despite being given a plausible explanation that they were
talking to a real person.

On the other hand, I've met quite a few (normally very sceptical)
people (myself included) who've been tricked by SysOp-chat programs
on BBS's which were just chatbots: when paging a SysOp at 2 in the
morning, you tend to be quite accepting (in terms of believability)
of the traits described at the start of this email, since thats what
a fair number of SysOps could be like from time to time.

Adam M
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