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Chatbots > ELIZA

ELIZA was the first chatbot to be created, originally back in the 1960s. A real-time natural language processor and response program, she was born in MIT, written by Joseph Weizenbaum. Several versions were created over the period spanning 1964 - 1966.

The first successful implementation was meant to simulate a psychotherapist, as this was one field of study where it was entirely plausible that a human would answer a question with another question, as if they were probing into the mind of the user. Thus, fairly detailed and realistic conversations could emerge, without the bot needing to show any real knowledge to speak of.

A sample conversation using a modern implementation of the original ELIZA code, running what has become known as the doctor script (the psychotherapist version):

   >> Hello.
   How do you do. Please state your problem.
   >> The light is too bright in here
   I'm not sure I understand you fully.
   >> the light is painful
   Please go on.
   >> it hurts my eyes
   Your eyes ?
   >> yes my eyes
   Why do you say your eyes ?
   >> because they hurt, and they belong to me
   Is that the real reason ?
   >> Well who else's would they be?
   Lets discuss further why your eyes . 

As demonstrated, the program lacks any real knowledge to draw upon. However, in the correct context, it can seem to be quite wise, and even sentient. Provided with a small database of information to draw upon, Eliza bots can be (and have been) repurposed for simple interaction tasks.

The program practically birthed the chatbot field, in part out of the fascination of a machine that could talk back - the concept of AI itself. Many, many implementations have been created by different programmers down the years, and different methods have been used, integrating ever larger datasets.

Eliza itself resurged in the 1980s, as more than a handful of MUDs - Multi User Domains - used Eliza's by then freely available code to create greeter bots for their worlds. These, loaded with basic tutorial information, were often used for beginner quests, with the Eliza code serving to give them a personality, and a degree of interactivity on top of that. As a result, more than a few new players were conned into thinking of them as fellow players; very helpful guides.


Eliza source and Test

Eliza: Wikipedia

DIKU MUD - Eliza - your MUD therapist

Eliza, computer therapist


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