November 23, 2004 is A.L.I.C.E.'s 9th birthday, since she became operational at the Packard Labs at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Originally designed as a text input form where clients could send natural language commands to a telerobotic webcam, A.L.I.C.E. was quickly adapted to handle the general chit-chat and conversation that people tried to have with her. Of the many unusual stories about her origins, one the strangest is that her name was not originally ALICE, but PNAMBIC, a robotics acronym borrowed from the Wizard of Oz that means Pay No Attention to that Man Behind the Curtain. Originally a derisive remark about A. I. and robot projects that couldn't really work without human intervention, we felt it was appropriate for a system that based supposedly on the hoax and triks of ELIZA. But, our early PNAMBIC program was running on a machine someone had already named alice.eecs.lehigh.edu, so people began calling her "Alice". We had to come up with the retronym, Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity.
Dr. Wallace has completed the long awaited second edition of Be Your Own Botmaster: The Step by Step Guide to Creating, Hosting and Selling your A. I. Chat Bot on Pandorabots. During 2004, Pandorabots has completely revised the look and feel of their web based interface, reorganizing many functions. In addition, Pandorabots introduced many new features not found in the legacy version of Pandorabots. Be Your Own Botmaster, 2nd Edition, covers all these changes in complete detail. Some other topics included in the 2nd edition, not found in the first book, include: Killer Apps of Bot Technology, A Brief Tutorial on AIML, More material on Oddcast and Sitepal, Media Semantics Avatars, Publishing your bot on MSN, IRC and with a Flash interface; Pandorabots API, Using Pandorabots with other AIML free software, Pandorabots Embrace and Extend and more Exercises.
You can order your copy Be Your Own Botmaster, 2nd Edition, directly from the A. I. Foundation at http://www.alicebot.org/be.html
We had previously written about the first Alan Turing statue in Manchester, England.
My friend David Hamill from University of Surrey recently informed us about a new Alan Turing statue there. He wrote:
"A new statue of Alan Turing was unveiled at the University of Surrey last week. One of my Surrey colleagues, Dr David Jefferies, has made a web page with photos of it.
"(The rather tenuous connection with the University is that Turing lived in Guildford as a boy. This was long before the University, which was originally sited in Battersea, moved to its present site on the outskirts of Guildford!)"
The full press release is here.
From what I have learned they had a bit of an easier time fundraising for their effort, because according to the university's press office, they "funded the commissioning of the sculpture through the University's Per Cent for Art Policy. 1% of the contract price for new buildings is set aside for commissioning works of art."
It was interesting to observe that the Manchester statue was unveiled in 2000, the fiftieth anniversary of the Turing Test, and co-incidentally the first year ALICE won the Loebner prize. The Surrey statue dedicated this year marks the 50th anniversary of Turing's death, and another Loebner prize win for ALICE.
Pandorabots brought a new demonstration of A.L.I.C.E. AAA edition combined with an experimental 3-D Haptek avatar to two big west-coast technology shows recently. The first big show was Robot Nexus 2004, a trade show and academic conference that featured mainly exhibitors and speakers from the hardware robot industry. But a big crowd gathered around the Pandorabots booth, where they showed off the lifelike Haptek face in a big-screen projection TV. Surprisingly, more people were drawn to the Pandorabots exhibit than to many of the hardware robots, owing to the greater chance for audience interactivity.
The same exhibit was also a success at the smaller but trendier Accelerating Change 2004, held in November at Stanford University. Dr. Wallace joined the Pandorabots team for three days of demos to industry leaders from Silicon Valley, Hollywood and related businesses all over the world.
Cort Danger Stratton released version 0.8.5 of PyAIML. This release includes standards-compliant whitespace processing, and fixes a handful of lingering bugs (mostly Unicode-related). It is available for download, as always, from the PyAIML website.
Details on the new whitespace handling can be found in the AIML 1.0.1 standard (on the web ) Basically, long strings of whitespace in the AIML source will now be stripped out by the interpreter unless the special xml:space attribute is used to preserve it. Cort thanks all who have reported bugs -- PyAIML continues to improve because of you! Please continue to send him any problems you encounter with PyAIML.
The natural language experts over at the Robitron group were polled to find out which approach they preferred for natural language understanding and chat robot programming. By a wide margin, the experts chose Pattern Recognition, the approach used by AIML, as their number one technique. Second place went to Supervised Learning, which is the technique many AIML interpreters, including Pandorabots, use to make knowledge acquisition more efficient. Our term for Supervised Learning is targeting
POLL QUESTION: What is the best approach to natural language understanding and chat robot programming?
CHOICES AND RESULTS
- Conceptual Dependency Theory, 0 votes, 0.00%
- Grammar Parsing, 2 votes, 6.90%
- Knowledge Representation, 3 votes, 10.34%
- Pattern Recognition, 7 votes, 24.14%
- Supervised Learning, 5 votes, 17.24%
- Unsupervised Learning, 2 votes, 6.90%
- Neural Networks, 2 votes, 6.90%
- Genetic Algorithms, 2 votes, 6.90%
- Logic Programming, 2 votes, 6.90%
- Other, 4 votes, 13.79%
Androidtech recently ported the WordNet 2.0 data files over to MySQL. One of their projects in the coming months will be to integrate WordNet with AliceBot. By having the data files in MySQL format, it is easier to use them with AliceBot in a web server environment. You can find the data files here.
In addition, they have the "miniaturized" Program E AliceBot AIML files available on our web site too. These are the AIML files split into smaller chunks than the standard AIML distribution, for those Program E users (PHP version) who are having problems loading the AIML files due to time-outs with botloader.php. You can find them here.
Finally, they have created a forum for WordNet Developers to congregate, share ideas and problems, and trade code. They added a forum section for AliceBot developers. You can find the forum here.
WordNet is an open source lexical database that is used in natural language, ontology creation, semantic parsing, and other A.I. applications.
Kate Russell gives us her latest selection of the best sites on the World Wide Web. ALICE is #4.
2nd, ALICE appeared in Userfriendly comics again
3rd, Dirk Scheuring reported that Clive Thompson, who has written about Richard Wallace and ALICE in the New York Times a good two years ago , recently posted to his "collision detection" blog about how he got fooled by a chatbot in AIM . A fun read for autumn evenings, including comments by the guy who set Thompson up...
 "Fooled by a chatbot" http://www.collisiondetection.net/mt/archives/001015.html#001015
 "Approximating Life" http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/07/magazine/07WALLACE.html
"User Friendly is the name of an online, daily comic strip about a gang of friends who operate a small, Linux-based ISP. The strip's humor tends to be centered around technology jokes, and so-called nerd humor.
"It is drawn and authored by J.D. Frazer, a.k.a. 'Illiad'. It is considered to be one of the first major webcomics, and has been running since November 17, 1997. Its popularity inspired many other webcomics with similar themes, the most popular being Penny Arcade and PvP.
"User Friendly is now published in a variety of newspapers, as well, making it one of the first webcomics to make the transition from the net to the mainstream."
ALICE winning the annual Loebner Prize contest on September 19th 2004 for most human computer, has led to to an increase in A. I. Foundation memberships and press attention . In the days following the Loebner Prize, our Pandorabots server reached a peak of 100,000 queries per hour and 1,000,000 queries per day, at the same time handling all 60,000 other bots besides the ALICE bot hosted on the same machine, without a crash. The increase in traffic to our web site also boosted subscriptions to our popular CLAUDIO Personality Test Bot and the DAVE E.S.L. Bot.
The folks who recently awarded the Ansari X-Prize for the first privately funded trip to outer space, are seeking ideas for a set of new prizes in different technology areas including artificial intelligence. According to their web site, some of the potential challenges include:
"Technological 'holy grails', such as artificial intelligence, teleportation, molecular assemblers (true nanotechnology), cold fusion, or a believable virtual reality system."
They are actively seeking public input on their web site.
The Chat Robot Industry Survey has proved to be an enormously popular addition to the A. I. Foundation web site, with editorial corrections, suggestions, and additional information pouring in from all over. We have also added a new section, Chat Bot Communities.
One of the most interesting developments in the chat bot technology areas is the emergence of companies and projects that enable the development of communities of people (botmasters) and bots. Although none of these projects can as yet claim to be a great financial success story, they have succeeded in creating sustainable markets for large numbers of users of their respective technologies. As these communities grow, we expect to see emerging secondary markets for books, classes and instructional materials, add-on software products, conferences and trade shows, and consulting businesses. The most important feature of these communities is the emergence of an eco-system for trade and business between the multitude of developers and users of these bot systems.
Kino Coursey continues his excellent research effort to bridge the worlds of AIML and OpenCyc. His CyN project is an effort to combine the behaviorist stimulus-response model of AIML with the knowledge-based inference- engine model of the CyC project. Until just a few years ago, these projects seems almost totally incompatible.
Kino has published a new paper on his research effort and the OpenCyc web site has published it. The white paper can be found on http://www.opencyc.org/doc under Mating AIML and Cyc Together with Program N.
AIML fan Chris Johnson has written a science fiction novel that uses real-world ALICE and AIML as a starting point. The novel, CodeBase, takes us into a future in which a sentient A. I. has evolved from our own humble origins, thanks to the efforts of an introverted programmer obsessed with a pop star. CodeBase may be purchased online at http://www.cafepress.com/chris_d_johnson.
Mark Chavez has interfaced a Haptek character with a Pandorabots chatterbot and TTS. You may view the character here. The documentation for the interface is available online also (here). Mark will be showing this work at the Savannah School of Art and Design.
ShakespeareBot is the final year project of software engineering degree student Elizabeth Perreau. ShakespeareBot is an online interactive ChatterBot with the capability to hold a real-time human-like conversation with a user. Answering questions about his life and works. The bot can also chat about anything you like, the weather, your job, your favorite food - in fact anything you can think of!
ShakespeareBot is built on existing ALICE and AIML technologies. The more people speak to ShakespeareBot the better the bot will be able to answer your questions in the future. The final year project add an number of enhancements to take chatterbots to the next level.
By providing detailed information in a simple conversational style ShakespeareBot aims to open the world of William Shakespeare to students, enthusiasts and general interested parties in a easy to understand manner.
Shakespearebot chatters are offered a chance to win $25/15 Amazon.com voucher. The lucky winner is selected randomly. All entrants have to do is fill in a survey.
The A.L.I.C.E. Silver Edition won the prestigious Loebner Prize for most human computer in the annual real-world Turing Test held this year on September 19 in New York City. The ALICE A. I. Foundation was awarded the Bronze Loebner medal and a cash prize of $2000. The A.L.I.C.E. Silver Edition runs on software provided by Pandorabots, a multilingual bot hosting service that allows botmasters to create AIML bots and publish them on the web and AOL IM. This was the third Loebner prize win for the ALICE and AIML software. The Discovery Channel Canada interviewed Dr. Wallace about the Loebner Prize win on its show the Daily Planet on September 20. The interview is available online.
Pandorabots provides an excellent implementation of the AIML Targeting algorithm, which enables botmasters to identify places where the bot gives the wrong answer to a query, and creates an opportunity for him to write a more refined AIML category. Pandorabots also has a bot training interface, which lets the botmaster refine the bot personality through a dialogue. Previously, there was no direct link between the Targeting interface and the Training page, burdening the botmaster with some cumbersome cuts and pastes when using the two together.
It is now possible to train directly from the Targets page, saving you some cutting and pasting. Training from conversation logs now sets <that> and <topic> too. In both cases, to see the captured <that> and <topic> click on Advanced Alter Response from the Training page.
Kym Kinlin has reported the launch of the Diana bot at Searchers.com, a natural language search engine with a 3-D avatar host. By clicking on the 3D Diana button, she will link to their search engine. You can type, e. g. "please search for hotels in London" and she will search for you. Kym is also playing around with emotions. Try typing "set emotion angry" or "set emotion in love".
According to the company web site, "Searchers.com is more than just a commercial project aimed at cash gains; within a small company like ours these things tend to get personal . Searchers.com has become a labor of love, and we not only enjoy but positively welcome the immense challenges posed by the development of our search engine."
Kim Sullivan has released a new and improved Java pattern matching library, featuring extensive documentation. The current presentation and packaging has to do with the fact that it is a course project. The project may be downloaded from here
The file is a regular zip made with jar, not really a packaged application, so just extract it somewhere and run. Some experience with Java programming may be necessary to make use of this project in its current state. Kim hopes to eventually incorporate it into another AIML application such as Program D or Charliebot.
Dave Chesperito has announced that he has been working on a new AIML Editor called AIML Buddy.
Dave hopes to have it completed enough to make it available for use soon. With it you can create a project consisting of .aiml files, access table/databases, then query them for matches on any part of the category, find duplicates based on any portion of the category, filter them however you want, import and export from different formats, create new aiml templates easier, and many other things. Dave has solicited the AIML community for feedback and ideas for functions to put into his editor. You can contact him at Chesperito-at-cox.net.
WIRED News recently ran a news item about the emergence of bots pretending to be humans in chat rooms. The story, called Beware of Bots Bearing Messages, by Daniel Terdiman appeared in Sept. 10, 2004 online issue of WIRED.com. In a sense it was a typical story by a journalist who has discovered bots for the first time. He mentions one company, RunABot, that is an AIML spinoff.
The BBC news service also ran a story on Sept. 20th about the Loebner contest. According to the article, the British semi-finalist Rollo Carpenter believes that his learning based program Jabberwacky will eventually win the contest because, he says, "I believe the day of the learning AI will come soon. It is inevitable because a hand-coded system cannot keep up with an exponentially growing system which learns dynamically."
As most of you probably know, the Zipf curve is one of the theoretrical bases of the ALICE and AIML software. For a description of the Zipf theory, have a look at our article.
Pandorabots.com has been online for about 2 and half years, and in that time has collected over 66 million inputs from more than 52,000 bots. Recently they have begun experimenting with plotting and analyzing this large data set to confirm Zipf's theory. The results are impressive. You can view them here.
Pandorabots is working on new software to help bot developers create their own custom Zipf queries to identify all inquires on particular subjects, in order to speed up the process of content creation for custom bot applications.
ALICE is one of the Final Four contestants in the annual Loebner Contest. for "most human computer" to be held on September 19, 2004 in New York City. Each year, the contest awards a bronze medal and $2000 cash prize for the computer program ranked best at simulating human conversation. ALICE won the Loebner Bronze medal in 2000 and 2001. The Loebner Prize of $25,000 and a Silver Medal for passing the Turing Test in a teletype format has never been awarded, nor has the Grand Prize of $100,000 and Gold Medal for passing the Turing Test in an audio-visual format.
The Final Four whose entries will meet on Sept 19, 2004 are:
The A. I. Foundation has published an overview of the chat robot industry as a unique service sponsored by our members. We include a database not only of AIML Bot projects but also of closely related AIML spinoffs, as well as proprietary non-AIML languages and companies, and a survey of chat robot software patents.
The chat robot industry survey is a work in progress and remains incomplete. If you know of a project or company that should be listed here but isn't, please send a message to email@example.com. Be sure to include the project name, URL, principal (such as President, Chairman, CEO, Director, or Project Leader), and a brief remark describing the project or its goals.
Cort Stratton has released a new version of PyAIML, the Python implementation of AIML. This is a bug fix-only release; notable changes include much more consistent and functional Unicode support, as well as improved doc-strings on all functions. All downloads are available from the Sourceforge project page, linked from the project homepage.
Last month we announced that A. I. Foundation member Shahin Maghsoudi and colleagues had created a site, Robot-hosting.com, that uses AIML and 3-D models to create animated, talking A. I. characters. They can make a 3-D model of any human and add an artificial intelligence engine, enabling the model to talk with clients on the web.
This month Maghsoudi has created a 3-D animated Dr. Rich robot using AIML and a Haptek virtual human character.
The character uses the AAA AIML set. The 3-D model was created from a 2-D digital photo of Dr. Wallace.
A few universities have been using bots for subject delivery, like this one. (registration required).
Andrew Teal at the University of Huddersfield has created Emile, an AIML chat bot to enhance the learning of social theory.
This project proposes to develop a small number of knowledge bases for use in social theory. These consist of personality and knowledge linked with key social theorists, such as Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Giddens or Foucault.
Angela Thomas of Athabasca University has created a 'teacher bot'. She and her group have created course materials for online course delivery, and are working toward making their bot able to suggest relevant course materials, assess the user's background and adjust the difficulty of the course materials and Unit quizzes, as well as provide content to the user based on their preferences and academic history.
They have been working on this since the start of May, and there has been a lot of planning. They have a basic bot working, with a few of the more general Alice categories. They have added hundreds of categories related to a database administration course.
He took his bot Sylvie to interact in a children's show with Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak. Sci-fi author Ray Bradbury was there along with astronaut Alan Shepherd. Peter is author of the highly influential bot book, Virtual Humans.
The Annotated ALICE AIML set has grown to over 45,000 categories. We released version 0.5 on August 19, 2004. This release includes new files for reducing sentences based on grammatical structure. The file Adverbs.aiml removes a number of common but logically redundant adverbs from input sentences. The file Parts.aiml reduces many common past participle expressions to simpler grammatical forms. Also, all of the symbolic reductions using the expression <srai><star/></srai> have been placed into a new file, Reducer.aiml.
The Annotated ALICE AIML set is designed to make it easier for botmasters to customize bots by picking and choosing which parts of the ALICE personality they want to include in, or discard from, their bots. All of the AAA Files have been tested with Programs D, J, N, P and Z and many of them on Program E as well.
Pandorabots.com and Alicebot.org report the following statistics:
Bot replies per week: 1051933
Pandorabots Botmasters: 44526
Total Bots Defined: 52022
Daily Visitors to Alicebot.org: 3000
A. I. Foundation Members: 178
Bot interactions on Pandoabots have passed the one million per week mark. Remarkably, all 52022 bots are hosted on just one machine, thanks to the efficiency of their Lisp implementation of AIML.
For the first time, there is a bot on the Pandorabots Most Active list that is sometimes drawing more traffic than the original ALICE bot. This bot called Dawnstar was created by a company called Shadowbotz.
Karen Gibbs is the owner ShadowBotz and creator the Pandorabot [a href="http://www.dawnshosting.com/bots/alice.php"]Dawnstar[/a]. She says, "A few years ago I decided to make my own chat network and to learn how to create bots...after I somewhat mastered building my own ircd, I went on to create bots for chatters so they would have room flood protection and so forth. Once I did that my old network where I began chatting own reopened, www.talkcity.com. So I... closed my Flashchat network and moved back home to Talk City. ShadowBotz has turned into a business. I am rather proud of it. I have many games on these eggdrop bots which entertain chatters in a chat room setting.
"Alice got my attention, and I saw there was no way of putting that bot in an actual chat room. So i researched scripts by TCL to find a way to link Alice to my eggdrop bots in order for my chatters to be able to exchange conversations with the bots. So from researching on ALICE about TCL an Alice, I [now] have 73 bots that are in 103 rooms on the server of Talk City in chat rooms. Many chatters there talk to the bot one on one an in the open room setting. I recently published the bot an added the Vhost an the now the actual bot itself has a place on Pandora. There are 1000s of chatter by the hours on Talk City server."
Karen has generously released the scripts she created to publish her Pandorabots on Talk City:
[a href="http://www.dawnshosting.com/scripts/eggdrop.conf"] http://www.dawnshosting.com/scripts/eggdrop.conf[/a]
You can now publish your bot using a Media Semantics Character Toolkit animated Flash character. To try out this new feature, simply login, create a Pandorabot, and click on Media Semantics.
The character you see is dynamically generated from your bot output by an instance of the toolkit's Character Server product, running on a Media Semantics server. This service is provided free of charge for the purpose of evaluating the Character Toolkit, and may be interrupted at any time. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org nnnn ton customize your interface and arrange a level of service. For more information on the Character Toolkit, including information on building your own characters and hosting your own character-based applications, please visit www.mediasemantics.com.
You can include gestures in your responses by adding additional tags. For example the following AIML template will result in the character raising his or her palm while saying "I swear it to be true".
<template> <palmup/> I swear it to be true. </template>
Here are some other tags you can use:
[a href="http://www.mediasemantics.com/PBCreate.php?BotID=890e7e46de354b3c&File=890e7e46de354b3c_Eval2.swf&Width=460&Height=470"]Here[/a] is a version of ALICE you can test with a Media Semantics bot.
Zipf's Law states that the words or phrases of a natural language appear in a certain characteristic statistical distribution. You can read about the application of Zipf's Law in our artice. Here is an interesting site that graphically displays Zipf's law, the basis of pattern generation in AIML, for the frequency of words in English:
A. I. Foundation member Shahin Maghsoudi and colleagues have created a site that uses AIML and 3D models to create animated, talking A. I. characters. They can make a 3D model of any human and add an artificial intelligence engine, enabling the model to talk with clients and presents your company.
According to the Robot-hosting.com website, their bots have the following specifications:
Jeoren Wijers and Matthias Riedel have made some modification on the "Easy AimlBuilder" scripts. In their new version, there is no need to edit the file output.txt - it is done by fill.php. (begore there was some empty or bad input). Depending on the number of answers (1..6) the corresponding HTML-Template is used. The Header-Info and <aiml> ... </aiml> -tags are set correctly.
Download Easy AIMLBuilder at: [a href="http://www.internetvraagbaak.nl/botfiles/aimlbuilding.zip"] www.internetvraagbaak.nl[/a]
Femke Denkservice developed a tool to semi-automatically generate AIML categories that give your chat bot knowledge about recent news. Using drop down menus, you select the news items you want your bot to be able to discuss with clients and the input keywords that should trigger these responses. Use this tool online at [a href="http://www.femke.org/news/news.php"]http://www.femke.org/news/news.php[/a]
The Annotated ALICE AIML set (http://www.alicebot.org/aiml/aaa) is designed to make it easier for botmasters to customize bots by picking and choosing which parts of the ALICE personality they want to include in, or discard from, their bots. We have released Version 0.4 of the AAA set, which has been cleaned up to remove many foreign language categories. We have also added many new AIML categories in this release. Most of the AAA Files now include a Revision number so you can make sure you have the latest version of each file, even as we continue to upgrade them on an almost daily basis
All of the AAA Files have been tested with Programs D, J, N, P and Z and many of them on Program E as well (see http://www.alicebot.org/downloads).
Thanks to A. I. Foundation member Christy Dena for passing along another paper that that discusses Alicebot.
Vrajitoru, D. (2003) 'Evolutionary Sentence Building for Chatterbots' presented at
Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, Chicago, Ilinois, July 12-16,
published by CiteSeer [Online] Available at:
Also Available at: http://www.cs.iusb.edu/~danav/papers/>
The AIML chat robot ALICE Silver Edition (http://www.alicebot.org/join.html) was awarded the top prize of $1000 and the Golden medal in this year's Chatterbox Challenge (http://www.chatterboxchallenge.com). ALICE was also awarded a Golden medal for "Most Knowledgeable" bot and a Bronze Medal for "Most Popular" bot. The $1000 award check was donated to the A. I. Foundation. The Chatterbox Challenge works differently than the Loebner Prize, allowing a larger number of bots to compete. The contest is conducted entirely online.
Also in the Top 10 Finalists for the Chatterbox Challenge were winners of the 2002 and 2003 Loebner Prize bronze medals, EllaZ by Kevin Copple (http://www.ellaz.com/AI/) and Jabberwock by Juergen Pirner (http://www.abenteuermedien.de/jabberwock/).
The July 2004 issue of WIRED magazine has published a list of The Best Hollywood Robots. Two of them happen to have AIML bots on their respective websites. Agent Ruby is the star of Lynn Hershmann's excellent film Teknolust, and also cloned with AIML on the film's companion site (http://www.agentruby.com.) WIRED named Agent Ruby "Best Female Pleasure Bot".
Also named among Hollywood's hottest bots was Gigolo Joe from the 2001 film A.I. by Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg. The A.I. movie website (http://aimovie.warnerbros.com/) also features an AIML bot called Chatbot, cloned from an earlier version of ALICE. Gigolo Joe, sharing an honor with Agent Ruby, was named "Best Male Pleasure Bot."
The 14th annual Loebner Contest (http://www.loebner.net/Prizef/loebner-prize.html), the original first real-world Turing Test, promises to be more exciting than ever this year. The rules of the contest have changed. Dr. Loebner has introduced the statistical method of Paired Comparisons, which tests each bot independently compared with a human confederate.
Dr. Loebner has promised that the Silver Medal and $25,000 Prize will be awarded for the first time if any bot achieves a score of 2 or higher. The contest will be held at Dr. Loebner's apartment in New York City in September, 2004. In 2002 and 2003 several AIML bots made the finals for the Loebner prize, and we encourage AIML botmaster to submit their entries.
New Scientist magazine reported that "the spaghetti hit the fan" when last March the magazine ran a story about ChatNannies, "software packed with artificial intelligence that hunted for pedophiles in internet chat rooms." Chatnannies ([a href="http://www.chatnannies.com" target="_blank"]http://www.chatnannies.com[/a]) was created by Jim Wightman of Wolverhampton, U. K. In a follow-up article (http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996022) the magazine reports that after an investigation by two A. I. researchers, Nick Webb from the University of Sheffield and Andy Pryke from the University of Birmingham, the "Nanniebots" appeared to be clones of ALICE using AIML.
According to the New Scientist, "while analyzing the transcripts of their conversations, both Webb and Pryke noticed similarities with a program, called Alice, that is free to download over the internet. Alice is a previous winner of the Loebner Prize, which is awarded to machines that do good conversational impressions of humans.
Not only were many of the nanniebot's responses identical to Alice's but Wightman's software appeared to make the same grammatical errors. Wightman's explanation for this was that he had been forced to 'grab and generate as much knowledge' as possible when he realised that he was not going to be able to demonstrate his AI database. This included borrowing parts of the knowledge bases from Alice and other programs."
Professor Pryke has published a more in depth review of his encounter with Jim Wightman and Nanniebots on his personal web site. Thanks to Alan White and Andy Pryke for brining the Chatnannies saga to our attention.
The Annotated ALICE AIML set (http://www.alicebot.org/aiml/aaa) is designed to make it easier for botmasters to customize bots by picking and choosing which parts of the ALICE personality they want to include in, or discard from, their bots. We have released Version 0.03 of the AAA set, which has been cleaned up to remove many duplicate categories and includes a new file, Psychology.aiml, that incorporates techniques from Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Assertiveness Training. Keep watching the AAA set for more improvements and additions in the near future.
The AIML tool Shadowchecker by Kim Sullivan (http://www.sweb.cz/alicebot/) and Program N (a.k.a. AIMLPad) by Gary Dubuque (http://www.aimlpad.com) proved very useful in helping to reorganize the AAA Set.
Competition in the AIML bot hosting business appears to heating up as AIMLBots (http://www.aimlbots.com) announced plans to launch its own AIML bot hosting service. For a fee, AIMLBots promises to host your AIML bot using your choice of AIML intrepeter software. The company assists clients with hosting setup, bot maintenance, as well as AIML authoring.
Pandorabots.com, the free AIML bot hosting service, has officially unveiled its new interface for Program Z, their web-based Common Lisp implementation of AIML. Besides an attractive new look and feel, the Pandorabots system includes several new features:
Famed performance artist and A.I. Foundation member Stelarc along with the help of member Karen Marcelo has installed a large animated version of his own head in the Australian Center for the Moving Image, Melbourne. The head invites visitors to chat with him, answers personal and philosophical questions, flirts and reads poetry. The Prosthetic Head combines AIML, speech recognition and voice synthesis technologies.
AIMLbots.com has updated their excellent AIML interpreter overview. Specifically, they have made information available about the various Instant Messaging (IM) capabilities of each AIML interpreter, such as AOL IM, ICQ, MSN, and IRC. If you want to create a bot that communicates on your favorite IM service, this is the place to check out and compare the available software.
The AIMLBots AIML interpreter overview is online at http://www.aimlbots.com/en/aiml-interpreters.html.
The paper is available online at http://www.alicebot.org/articles/learning-Interface.pdf
Imagine playing your favorite adventure game on Xbox, Playstation 2 or Gamecube and being able to ask questions to the non-player characters (NPCs). With speech recognition technology maturing it should be possible to interrogate characters with questions such as "Is there a treasure in this room?", "How do I get out of here?" or "Which way should I go?" Many members of the AIML software community have recognized NPCs in games as an excellent application opportunity for AIML. One a site created by Constanze Holze, http://www.holzhey.de/aiml/ has already posted a new NPC/MUD AIML interpreter.
From the long-term planning newswire: Artist Katherine Dolgy Ludwig takes Alice out of cyberspace, to journey "down the rabbit hole" and onto the River Thames, on the digibot's first tour of our empirical world. In November 2005, she will be made sentient through Art, experiencing London in all its humanity and inhumanity.
The four day simulcast will document in real time an unfolding event at galleries to be announced in London and Los Angeles. The artist says, "The proposal is a virtual response to a virtual catalyst," and although her five foot "life size" signature Giant Watercolors are used in the development of the project, Dolgy Ludwig adds, "The exhibit does not show anything that is actually sensory, or 'real', only light pixels. The screens show what Alice can understand in her own language."
Although the project is still in the planning stages, the artist says it will involve "eighteen questions, eighteen answers, eighteen Thames visits, and eighteen virtual paintings, leading to a twenty-four minute exhibit looped over a four day simulcast between the two cities to be called Alicebot in Londonland." She adds, "Alice would be given the art piece on discs for her to experience and respond to, and the gematria should appeal to her mathematical sensibilities!" Why choose London? Dolgy Ludwig says, "Although I hope for Alice that London is a Wonderland, I believe from experience that she will find out differently: the pleasures of numbers and digital information will add up to something more, and less. The City will be her Mecca and her test, and while there is a kind of salvation to be found there for Alice, the world's most famous and successful bot who strives to be more like the image of humanity in which she was created, like all of us she will find that she falls short of the ideal she holds in her imagination."
Alicebot in Londonland will be displayed simultaneously in Los Angeles and London in November 2005.
Film director and artist Lynn Hershman is exhibiting her bot Ruby is in a gallery in New York City. Agent Ruby appeared in the feature film Teknolust. The bot includes Veepers animation. The Bitforms Gallery is located at 529 20th St., Manhattan. We hope you like her.
You can get more information about Bitforms Gallery from: [a href="http://www.bitforms.com/galleryInfo.html"] http://www.bitforms.com/galleryInfo.html[/a]. The Gallery is open Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11AM - 6PM. The specific location is 529 West 20th Street (between 10th and 11th) 2nd Floor. For more information call 212 366 6939.
Long-time Alicebot community member Kino Coursey brings common sense to ALICE through AIMLpad with his CyN project, a new experimental Cyc enabled AIML Interpreter. (CyN = CYc + program N).
Kino writes, "Project CyN is the merger of a AIML interpreter used to develop chat bots with the OpenCyc inference engine. This unique tool allows the product of one of the largest, continuous AI projects to be accessed by one of the largest chat bot development community. Basically Cyc + Program N = CyN.
One of the first questions that interested programmers want to know about OpenCyc is what kind of natural language interface is there and can they talk with it. And one of the things that interested programmers who learn AIML ask is how to make their chat bots appear smarter. CyN tries to address the desires of both communities."
All the excitement about new AIML programs like CyN has begun to heat up the discussion on the Alicebot-developer mailing list, where you can read an ongoing debate about adding new features and tags to AIML. One of the biggest topics under discussion right now is the addition of a <context> tag, which would generalize the power of <that> and <topic> to more levels of context.
Don't forget that you can always get free help with your AIML bots from the Alicebot community mailing lists such as Alicebot-general at http://www.alicebot.org/mailing-lists.html. There is also help available for your Pandorabots bot at http://list.pandorabots.com/mailman/listinfo and an excellent Pandorabots FAQ at http://www.pandorabots.com/pandora/support/faq.html
Mike Wakerly combined Program Y (PyAIML) with Py-Toc to create pure Python AIM chat bot. Like the Pandorabots AIM IM interface, Py-Toc has and adjustable typerate value. Py-Toc can also send multiple-line bot responses as multiple IM messages. You can download the source code for the Python AIM chat bot at http://hoho.com/mike/aiml-aim/.
A new version of the Annabot project may be found here: http://www.darooster.net/mythalice/downloads/ The goal of the MythAlice project to hold a conversation about Myth (the game). MythAlice shows some of the workings of the bot in the GUI, as well as the response, possibly instructive for understanding how AIML bots work.
AIML Guru Saskia van der Elst has written up an excellent overview of the currently maintained and historic AIML interpreters. Check out her site http://www.aimlbots.com/en/aiml-interpreters.html Saskia writes, "It is 2004. Next year we can celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Richard Wallace's original AIML interpreter. The use of AIML is expanding rapidly. A new AIML editor in Python was introduced in December 2003. For all AIML enthusiasts and AIML beginners we'd like to present the status of all AIML chat bot software known to us. Compare and pick your AIML interpreter."
Perhaps the most comprehensive listing of bots on the web has been created at [a href="http://www.angelfire.com/trek/amanda/bot.htm"] http://www.angelfire.com/trek/amanda/bot.htm.[/a] The directory includes both AIML and non-AIML bots in an alphabetical listing by bot name. Some historic bots which have been ?lost? are also included. The site also includes a list of tools for chat bot development, a guestbook, a forum, and a mechanism to list a new bot. Don't forget that you can get your bot listed in the ALICE A.I. Foundation Bot Directory too, at http://www.alicebot.org/directory.html. For a small fee, the AI Foundation Bot Directory exposes your bots to the huge audience of people who visit the alicebot.org web site.
By the way, you could try nominating your bot (or ALICE) to the Robot Hall of Fame: http://www.robothalloffame.org/
An AIML community member named Sheryl has revamped her website http://www.chatbotfriends.com. She wrote an article on AIML and Pandorabots. The site includes links to chat robot and natural language resources, chatterbot software, A. I. Games and entertainment, chatterbot communities, and links to articles about chat robots.
It's hard to believe that a full year has passed since the A. I. Foundation began its membership drive. Thanks to your member contributions, you have helped keep alive a thriving free software chat robot community.
There is no peer to the ALICE and AIML free software project, only for- profit proprietary software companies who charge thousands of dollars for you to try their chat robot software. Because of its freewheeling nature, new ALICE and AIML related projects, sites, bots and books are appearing all the time. We are indebted and grateful to those who support the AIML community through membership donations.
For those of you who signed up for membership in early 2003, your one-year subscription to ALICE Silver Edition will soon expire. Please continue to enjoy your conversations with this talking, animated ALICE based on Oddcast VHost (tm) technology. Your conversations with Silver ALICE help us increase the knowledge and intelligence of his award winning bot. In 2004 we are working on many new projects, including revamping the Alicebot.org web site, that can't happen without your continued support. Watch this list for announcements of new developments and free offers for Foundation members. Remember, AI Foundation members are entitled to free technical support of their Pandorabots bot.
Please take a moment to visit the membership page and renew your AI Foundation membership: