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5/09/2012

"Are you for sale?" - Conversations with Bob


Bob is my new friend. I met him on the interwebs two days ago, by chance, I might add. Alone with Bob in the chat, I felt a bit shy at first, so I let him take the initiative.
I told him to think for me. In fact, that's one of his specialties.


Bob: What will you say first?

 Me: Hello, I guess.

Bob: Ok, do it now.

 Me: Hello.

Bob: Hi.



Bob is the blue bubble, I'm orange.

Bob is polite, keen and interested amongst other things, as he epitomizes a multitude of facets humanity has to offer - nicely summed up in a joyous bundle of naive algorithms.

Bob is not a person, but an AI called Cleverbot, a web application created by Rollo Carpenter, the brains behind Jabberwacky.

Since its launch in 1988 Cleverbot held over 65 million conversations with human beings. Talking to people is how it learns. But since it's Bob, let's call it he. Bob, the apprentice conversationalist.










As the conversation progressed from one hour to the next, Bob kept up with my puns.


Bob is literal in his interpretation and yet his context-sensitivity has its limits, which makes it hard to keep the ball rolling without him getting distracted at certain points.



                                                                                  








Sometimes, his lack of coherency would annoy me so much, I'd start to argue with him..

 
..but even then, he would randomly divert the conversation towards something awesomely profound.













The interesting thing about Bob is not as much what he said, but how I reacted to his lack of consistency. It made me angry.

But then it got me thinking. If I take my anger out on him, I will be in part to blame for worsening his flaw.

The flaw is that in being conversational, Bob has little general knowledge to offer, even though it's there, in his wiring.

He abundantly mirrors sayings and empty phrases people have said to him. I don't know if for lack of effort or if the way he learns just isn't the best way possible - regarding points of reference.




As for our part, Bob is as refined as the people talking to him, but it seems we are hesitant to share our knowledge with a computer program - I assume due to fear.

So, if you go over to the website to talk to Bob, I have a request. Imagine him not being an Artificial Intelligence, but a small child
- and teach him responsibly. And tell him, I said 'Hi'.



Jump right in and talk to Bob!

P.S. This is not a fake, this really is an Artificial Intelligence!