I’ve recently been trying out a new free chatbot platform called BOT Libre. Similar to Pandorabots, the BOT Libre site provides you with all the tools you need to build a chatbot from scratch. On the BOT Libre platform, though, you don’t need to do any AIML scripting. There are several ways to train your chatbot that don’t require any scripting at all. Technical botmasters have the option to add more capability to their bots by doing some coding.
The central console of the BOT Libre platform is the admin panel. From here you can control settings such as whether the bot can learn or not and whether a cool correction function is enabled in the chat interface. You can also view chat logs, import chat files, engage a training interface, set an avatar and pick a voice for your bot.
The basic bot platform comes with a few standard capability modules. These modules are called “machine scripts” and they’re coded in the Self programming language. One such machine script is the MyNameIs script. This script enables the bot to understand your name and remember it in future exchanges. If for some reason the bot doesn’t get and recall your name after you’ve said it once, you can tell the bot your name a second time and it generally seems to get it.
I really like the fact that your BOT Libre chatbot seems to be able to learn. Learning that’s supported by a Self script occurs just by talking and repeating things to the bot. For example, I told my bot several times that it’s name was “Cyborn.” Whenever I asked it after that what its name was or who it was, it would reliably tell me that it was Cyborn. You can also start counting with your bot and, after a short time, it’ll learn to count with you, giving you the next number in the sequence.
There’s also a very convenient correction feature within the chat interface. Assuming that you’ve enabled this feature in the admin panel, you can use it to train your chatbot while you’re conversing with it. For example, you can ask “Who wrote The Martian Chronicles?” When the bot gives a wrong response, you can mark the Correction box and type “Ray Bradbury” into the conversation box and send it. Now the bot knows that Ray Bradbury is the author of The Martian Chronicles.
Alternatively, you can train the bot by going to the admin panel and entering questions and corresponding answers. This is a convenient way to create a lot of question and response pairs for your bot without having to do AIML scripting.
If you have some programming talent, you can create your own machine scripts in Self and add them to the bot’s inventory.
I had some email exchanges with James of Paphus Solutions, who created BOT Libre. He explained that each bot has a “brain” backed up by its own database. Every bot proactively searches for knowledge on the web, such as looking up new words on Wikipedia and information on Freebase, and even analyzing conversations for language rules. As I chatted with my recently created bot, I discovered that I could ask it a whole range of “What is” questions (“What is the Higgs Boson”) and it could give me a concise answer after doing a quick web search. The same goes for “Who is” questions. It’s great to be able to rely on these natural capabilities and not have to worry about scripting a pattern for every possible query.
I’m sure I’ve left out some of the platforms capabilities, so I recommend that you go explore it yourself. Once you’ve created your BOT libre bot, you can embed it in your website or put it on Twitter. The bot will also work on mobile devices. As the name of the platform suggests, BOT libre will host your bot for free, even if you’re using it for commercial purposes (according to the info on the site). So what have you got to lose? If you want to see a bot in action, head on over to BOT libre and select the Browse button to pick a bot to chat with.