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Cleverbot is a website that features an artificial intelligence (AI) application that chats with users in real-time. It is able to simulate human conversations by choosing phrases that other users have responded with in previous conversations.
In 1981, British programmer Rollo Carpenter coded the first incarnation of a chatterbot program that was created to trick people into thinking they were talking with another human, thereby passing the “Turing Test”. In 1997, the bot was called “Jabberywacky”, and was first launched on the Internet. Two Jabberwacky characters, George and Joan, won the Loebner prize in 2005 and 2006. In October of 2008, the Cleverbot variation of the chatterbot was released. In December 2010, a special high-powered version of Cleverbot won the BCS Machine Intelligence Competition, where the events audience voted Cleverbot 42.1% Human (on average).
One of the first chatterbot programs was called ELIZA, which was developed by computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum from 1964 to 1966. It was able to run custom scripts for interacting with humans, the most notable being it’s DOCTOR script which was meant to act like a therapist. It typically responded with questions about whatever phrase a user had previously entered.
The Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity (ALICE) chatterbot began development by computer scientist Richard Wallace in 1995. It was inspired by the ELIZA program, but used “heuristical pattern matching rules” to respond to human input.
Search queries for “cleverbot” has been rising steadly since November of 2008, one month after Cleverbot was launched.
An article on Singularity Hub claimed that “talking to Cleverbot is a little like talking with the collective community of the internet”, referencing how it learns phrases from other Internet users. Like the web application Akinator, this has led to Cleverbot becoming familiar with various Internet memes. Inputting “O RLY” into Cleverbot may sometimes make it respond with “ya rly”. It will sometimes recite the Rickroll lyrics if part of the song is typed in. The same will happen with many other songs, including “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Still Alive”. If Chuck Norris is mentioned, it may recite Chuck Norris facts. Cleverbot also knows many Harry Potter spells, and if you write one, it will reply back with another spell, simulating a spell battle.
On September 4th, 2011, Cleverbot participated in a Turing test, an attempt to measure a computer program’s ability to trick someone into thinking it is a human, at a technology event in India. New Scientist reported on its performance in an article titled “Software tricks people into thinking it is human” on September 6th.
The Cleverbot test took place at the Techniche festival in Guwahati, India. Thirty volunteers conducted a typed 4-minute conversation with an unknown entity. Half of the volunteers spoke to humans while the rest chatted with Cleverbot. All the conversations were displayed on large screens for an audience to see.
Both the participants and the audience then rated the humanness of all the responses, with Cleverbot voted 59.3 per cent human, while the humans themselves were rated just 63.3 per cent human. A total of 1334 votes were cast – many more than in any previous Turing test, says Cleverbot’s developer and AI specialist Rollo Carpenter.