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A chatbot (or chatterbot, or chat bot) is a computer program designed to simulate an intelligent conversation with one or more human users via auditory or textual methods. Traditionally, the aim of such simulation has been to fool the user into thinking that the program's output has been produced by a human (the Turing test). Programs playing this role are sometimes referred to as Artificial Conversational Entities, talk bots or chatterboxes. More recently, however, chatbot-like methods have been used for practical purposes such as online help, personalised service, or information acquisition, in which case the program is functioning as a type of conversational agent. What distinguishes a chatbot from more sophisticated natural language processing systems is the simplicity of the algorithms used. Although many chatbots do appear to interpret human input intelligently when generating their responses, many simply scan for keywords within the input and pull a reply with the most matching keywords, or the most similar wording pattern, from a textual database.

The term "ChatterBot" was originally coined by Michael Mauldin (Creator of the first Verbot, Julia) in 1994 to describe these conversational programs.[1]



In 1950, Alan Turing published his famous article "Computing Machinery and Intelligence"[2] which proposed what is now called the Turing test as a criterion of intelligence. This criterion depends on the ability of a computer program to impersonate a human in a real-time written conversation with a human judge, sufficiently well that the judge is unable to distinguish reliably - on the basis of the conversational content alone - between the program and a real human. The notoriety of Turing's proposed test stimulated great interest in Joseph Weizenbaum's program ELIZA, published in 1966, which seemed to be able to fool users into believing that they were conversing with a real human. However Weizenbaum himself did not claim that ELIZA was genuinely intelligent, and the Introduction to his paper presented it more as a debunking exercise:

[In] artificial intelligence ... machines are made to behave in wondrous ways, often sufficient to dazzle even the most experienced observer. But once a particular program is unmasked, once its inner workings are explained ... its magic crumbles away; it stands revealed as a mere collection of procedures ... The observer says to himself "I could have written that". With that thought he moves the program in question from the shelf marked "intelligent", to that reserved for curios ... The object of this paper is to cause just such a re-evaluation of the program about to be "explained". Few programs ever needed it more.[3]

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