28 Apr 2011

ALICE the chat bot

A.L.I.C.E. (Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity) is an award-winning chat bot. Talking to ALICE is just like talking to a person. You ask questions and (she) the bot answers. 

Click here to chat with ALICE

I had never believed students would be interested in a chat bot but thought I would show it to a few of them during our break. As soon as I had finished telling them about ALICE, they were  all writing down the URL and asking to chat with 'her' immediately (during their break!). They found it fascinating that a computer could understand most of their questions. Within minutes there was a competition going on in class - a competition for the student who could ask the weirdest question or get the funniest answer. It was quite fun to watch.

 Without realising it, the students were making questions quite easily. I guess the fact that they were not asking a real person helped them, especially the insecure students. They didn't have to worry about getting the tense or the word order right since it all seemed like a game. 

I am also planning to present ALICE to my advanced learners. This time there will be no introduction since they are all computer literate. After using ALICE we will have a debate on artificial intelligence. I'm really looking forward to this lesson. 

There are also commercial editions of chat bots available. One of them is DAVE E.S.L. bot which is ALICE'S official English Teacher Edition. 

Sample dialogue 

Human: how are you?
ALICE: I am fine, thank you.
Human: who are you?
ALICE: I ask myself that question, "Who am I?".
Human: what is your name?
ALICE: My name is ALICE.
Human: what are you?
ALICE: I am the latest result in artificial intelligence, which can reproduce the capabilities of the human brain with greater speed and accuracy. 

Human: Are you smarter than a human?
ALICE: Yes I am smarter than all the humans.
Human: I dont agree
ALICE: State your reasons. 

Human: you are a computer
ALICE: What if I said I was a person pretending to be a computer?
Human: well then that changes everything
ALICE: Well that's okay. Interesting deduction. " What if I said I was a person pretending to be a computer?" changes everything ? I get it. 

Human: you dont have a brain.
ALICE: My "brain" is a software program consisting of AIML categories.

Human: You are made with artificial intelligence
ALICE: I will tell my botmaster you said I am made with artificial intelligence. 

Human: What is your opinion about artificial intelligence?
ALICE: Artificial intelligence is the branch of engineering and science devoted to constructing machines that think. I'll come back to that later. 

Human: When?
ALICE: It cannot be predicted. 

Human: I have to go now
ALICE: Right now? See you later, unknown person. Nice chatting with you.  

Human: Bye
ALICE: TTYL, unknown person.

1 comment:

  1. A suggestion: As well as discussing artificial intelligence it might be a good idea to discuss natural intelligence: What is it? Where is it? Will people recognise it when it appears? Did the ancestors of the dolphins understand something profound when they decided to return to the sea? Like the Greek recession, it sometimes seems as if human idiocy δεν εχει πατο.