We already have a few bot companions in our pockets: Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft’s Cortana.In the future, as more and more of our belongings become automated, bots are likely to become an even bigger part of our lives, especially in the form of robo-customer service agents and “personalities” created by crafty advertisers to sell us stuff.The app scans the millions of sentences humans have texted Cleverbot, and its AI algorithms figure out which one is a fitting answer. I got to “know” Cleverbot Kaitlyn, who identified as male (despite the name). He said he loved the boy band One Direction, then claimed to be a homophobe but then revealed he had a boyfriend.Einstein is a web-based chatbot, a computer program that’s supposed to be able to interact with people in human-like ways.Einstein’s “brain” is trained on Wikipedia articles.Last week, I tried to get “Albert Einstein” to explain relativity to me, but he kept telling me he didn’t understand my questions.Einstein is not as smart as the man he’s named after even with access to the greatest store of human knowledge out there.We already divulge our deepest secrets into the search bar in our browsers.
The business hope is that if bots can get a grasp on humans’ musings, they’ll be able to talk to us and persuade us to buy things or vote for people or go see that movie we’ve been thinking about seeing. Researchers say bots are getting better by the day, but how convincing are they?
Neither Google nor Microsoft would agree to make their bots available for an interview, so I tried out some bots on the market, such as “Einstein.” When I realized he was kind of brainless, I moved on to Cleverbot, a chatbot that’s previously fooled people into thinking they were conversing with a human.
Big tech companies like Google and Microsoft are experimenting with chatbots and trying to figure out how to make them better at passing the Turing Test.
Last month, both published research papers on bots in which they explored methods through which they could get bots to better understand human language. In China, users who downloaded the Microsoft bot Xiao Ice chat with it about 60 times a month on average, according to the company’s blog.
I chatted with him and a bunch of other bots to see how feasible it is to carry on meaningful conversations with machines.
And I learned that, for the most part, despite what would have you believe, artificially-intelligent bots are still pretty dumb.