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Telltale Programmer Creates Award-Winning Chatbot

| 29 Oct 2010 16:46
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A programmer behind games known for fart jokes has won a sophisticated award for developing complex AI.

Back in the day, it was hilarious fun to sic a chatbot on an instant messaging friend to see what kind of frustration and confusion would ensue. The quality of such bots would vary depending on their creators, and one of the best is apparently in development by an employee of a prominent videogame company. Sam & Max and Strong Bad adventure game studio Telltale Games' "core tech programming whiz" has recently won the 2010 Loebner Prize for Artificial Intelligence thanks to his own chatbot.

A chatbot is basically a program that will reply to anything in as realistic a manner as possible. To win the award, Telltale's Bruce Wilcox created a chatbot named Suzette. Wilcox describes Suzette as an emotionally unstable student working as a waitress in a Polynesian history museum. I suppose that's as good a backstory for a chatbot as any.

The Loebner Prize is given away annually to the programmer that can develop a chatbot which best passes the "Turing test." The term "Turing test" refers to mathematician Alan Turing who once questioned whether machines could think, and wondered how we could tell. For the contest, a panel of Loebner judges engages in natural conversation with the entries for their own Turing test to see which creations exhibit behavior most indistinguishable from that of a human. This time, Wilcox's years of work on Suzette paid off, and he's not done yet.

Telltale says that some of Wilcox's work is being implemented into future Telltale projects. It'd be neat to type our own responses into the conversations of an adventure game, but that seems a long ways away. If you'd like to chat with Wilcox's entry to see if it passes your Turing test, Suzette can be found here. Just don't ask about her stance on health care because she'll go on and on for hours.

Source: Telltale Blog

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