I recently enjoyed testing the intelligence of a variety of “Chat Bots” online. While some tend to hold meaningless conversations, others actually make some sense!
Chatterbots, otherwise known as Chat Bots are defined by Wikipedia in the following definition: A chatterbot (or chatbot) is a type of conversational agent, a computer program designed to simulate an intelligent conversation with one or more human users via auditory or textual methods.
Websites are now employing chat-bots to welcome visitors and answer questions, chat bots are able to serve as a virtual assistant. We have also seen some migration of chat bots into virtual world spaces, such as Second Life. So what’s with this rather new form of intelligent technology? Although it’s not necessarily new, in fact the oldest chat bot was recorded back in the 1960’s! Today, they seem to be evolving and intent on becoming a practical solution in a variety of business and pleasure applications. Perhaps ALICE (Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity), is the most famous chat bot of all.
What’s the role of a chat bot in an immersive virtual world? Applying chat bots into virtual world applications have been done- with some success. I believe that in the future we will see chat bots evolve further in virtual world spaces. When you enter Second Life you may immediately have a chat bot befriend you and carry on a meaningful (and intelligent) conversation. Rather than entering an empty area of Second Life with no other form of avatar contact. Chat bot technology is especially useful for companies that have set up shop in Second Life, whereas they don’t have to worry about staffing the Second Life location 24/7 as a virtual chat bot can do the job and answer the basic questions about a company. Because virtual worlds are primarily text based in nature for communication/ interactions this type of environment makes it a great test-bed for chat bot avatars. Utilized for entertainment and information services, Chat Bots are always available (24/7) and intelligent enough to answer questions.
Many are scripted, however a few are non-scripted that pull from a large database of text. Chat-bots are mostly text bound and utilize Natural Language Processing (NLP). Chat bots can range from greeters on web pages (that have been proven to increase sales/ conversion ratios), customer service representatives, tour guides and non-player characters (NPCs). Do they seem lifelike? To some extent yes, but they by no means take on the persona of a real person.