21W765j/21L489j (U) (12 undergraduate credits)

21L989 (G) (12 graduate credits)
Interactive and Non-Linear Narrative: Theory and Practice

Dr. Janet H. Murray


Chatterbot Assignment Due Thursday April 2


To converse with automated characters and observe what makes for a coherent conversation.

Read :

Hamlet on the Holodeck, chapter 8

Supplementary and Graduate Reading:

Weizenbaum, "ELIZA" (handout)

Foner, "Entertaining Agents"

Margaret Boden Artificial Intelligence and Natural Man, pp. 21-111 (on reserve) (on Colby's work).

On-Line Conversations

Choose one or more of the following automated characters, and bring a printout or electronic file of the resulting conversations to class, marking the longest consecutive string of coherent exchanges between you and the character. What increased the sense of verisimilitude? Which characters did you find it easiest to converse with?

Exercise 1: ELIZA

On Athena, bring up the emacs word processor by typing


Within emacs do:

escape-x doctor

This will bring up a version of Eliza. Talk to her. Save and print out your best conversation. (Control-X Control-S to save; Control-X Control-C to quit emacs)

Or use this site for Eliza via telnet.

Optional Supplement or alternative to ELIZA conversation:

Also in emacs type

escape--x yow

Observe and save the results. Now do this

escape-x psychoanalyze-pinhead

Control-g. will end this routine. Again, observe and save the results. Print it out and on the printout mark the successful interchanges -- the ones that were believable or amusing, that made it seem as if there was conprehension between the two characters. Write a short note indicating what made them work and be ready to talk about it in class.

Exercise 3: Julia

Talk to Michael Mauldin's Julia (use "Julia" as password) and visit her homepage.

Optional: read Lenny Foner's "Entertaining Agents"

Exercise 4: Other Chatterbots

Play with the Alice, Maur, or the other chatterbots on this website of the Communication Research Centre's CHAT project. Note that these characters are based on a hypertext model of conversation.