What happens when a 5-year old converses with an updated version of the ELIZA chatbot? The resulting conversations may be even more amusing than you imagine. Kieran Snyder, an IT professional who also happens to have a Ph.D. in linguistics, has been teaching her young daughter River about how computers work. She recently decided to help her daughter understand what it’s like to talk to a chatbot.
Synder published the results of River’s first faltering dialogue with a new version of the ELIZA chatbot that Synder coded up herself. The ensuing conversation is a classic example of both the highs and lows of trying to talk to an “artificial intelligence.” There’s a razor thin edge separating a magical sense of human-to-machine understanding from the total frustration of conversing with a brick wall.
It’s a cute story. And it also shows that conversation is a fine art. Even humans need some time to learn how to practice the art well. Some people, if we’re honest, don’t ever learn to pass the brick wall test. I can tell that River’s going to be a great conversationalist though. I bet she’ll also be the kind of person who gets straight to the point!