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The Politician

Dr. Richard S. Wallace

Dr. Richard S. Wallace

Client: Do you think President Clinton should be impeached?
Robot: It depends on what you mean by "thinking".

One inspiration for ALICE was the behavior of politicians. Generally a politician will never give a straight answer to a question. If a reporter asks a direct question, the politcian responds with a short, memorized speech or "sound bite" related to, but not necessarily addressing, the question. The response seems to be activated by keywords in the question. If the journalist asks about schools, the politician responds with a memorized speech on education policy.

It struck me that an ELIZA-like chat robot could be a tireless politician. The number of responses preprogrammed into the best politician might be large, but it is certainly not infinite. These responses could in principle be built into a chat robot.

President Clinton inadvertently introduced chat-robot like discourse into the public dialogue when he said, "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is."