From Chatbots to Dialog Systems

From Chatbots to Dialog Systems

Tina Klüwer
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-617-6.ch001
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This chapter provides an overview of the technologies used for chatbots on the one hand and research dialog systems on the other hand. By comparing the two, the main disadvantage of chatbots is shown: its dependency on huge amounts of inflexible language data. Methods originating from Computational Linguistics, which are frequently used in dialog systems, can provide a solution by offering further flexibility to the language processing part of the system.
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Comparison Of Chatbots And Theory-Based Dialog Systems

There are several definitions of dialog systems and chatbots in the literature and parts of these definitions are similar or equal. This section presents a definition of “chatbots” and “dialog systems” as they are used in this chapter and describes how they differ. A detailed description of chatbots, dialog systems and their methods follows in the next two sections.

The terminology “chatterbot”, also “chatbot”, originates from the corresponding system CHATTERBOT, invented as a game character for a multiuser dungeon game (Mauldin, 1994). Its main task was to answer user questions regarding navigation through the dungeon, other gamers, and objects available in the game world. The system simulated conversational abilities via simple rules and some innovative tricks and successfully “fooled” the other players into thinking it was another user. They were unaware of the possibility of a bot in the game and hence were very cooperative.

In this respect it replicates the success of its ancestor ELIZA, a program developed by the information scientist Joseph Weizenbaum (Weizenbaum, 1966). ELIZA is a small system which gained popularity by simulating a psychotherapist users can interact with via typed natural language conversation. Although Weizenbaum did not call his software a “chatbot, the chatbot genealogy indicated by this type of conversational system is generally assumed to start with ELIZA, and CHATTERBOT was developed directly based on the experience with the ELIZA program.

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