Drunk Eliza
Daniel Temkin

Eliza is a proto-chatbot, first written in 1966. She mimics a Rogerian psychotherapist, using simple pattern recognition and a short list of responses to carry on a conversation.

Her creator, Joseph Weizebaum, was surprised and disturbed by how quickly users ascribed a personality to her even though they knew she was software.

I wrote the programming language Entropy in 2010 to address the way compulsive habits are reinforced by the act of programming -- and by our interaction with computers generally. Humans are terrible at logic and we don't really get better at it by working with machines. Instead, we learn to think compulsively, adapting the flavor of logic but not its rigor. In Entropy, all data decays over time, forcing the programmer to approximate, to give up precision and control as disorder sets in. There is no way to get things perfect and so the programmer must unclench to use the language effectively.

I wondered what personality Eliza would have when written in Entropy. I adapted the program, keeping her logic and bank of phrases intact. The result was: Drunk Eliza.

But putting a program online that impersonates a drunken female brought out a different set of issues. About half the conversations people have are hitting on her or coercing her into sexual acts. One user commented “I can’t believe I’m spending my Saturday night hitting on a drunk chatbot from the 1980s.” Others relate to her drunkenness and type long streams of nonsense. So this program, created to illustrate my language to non-programmers, has taken on a life of its own.

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project homepage: http://danieltemkin.com/DrunkEliza
keywords: 1960s-psychiatric-chat-code software for dos and windows
category: artificial intelligence
uploaded by danieltemkin, 23 Oct 2012

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