Cleverbot is an AIweb application that learns how to mimic human conversations by communicating with humans. It was created by AI veteran Rollo Carpenter, who also created Jabberwacky, a similar web application. In the first decade of its existence after being created in 1988, Cleverbot held several thousand conversations with Carpenter and his associates. Since being launched on the web in 1997, the number of conversations has exceeded 65 million.
Cleverbot, a learning Artificial Intelligence conversationalist, took part alongside humans in a formal Turing Test at the Techniche 2011 festival at IIT Guwahati, India on the 3rd of September. The results from 1,334 votes were announced September 4th 2011. Cleverbot was judged to be 59.3% human, far exceeding expectations. The humans in the event achieved just 63.3%.
So what magnificent algorithm lies in the gearbox of this brilliant machine, which can seem more human than not? How have its programmers equipped it with so much conversational, contextual and factual knowledge?
The answer is very simple: crowdsourcing. As the chatbot's designer, Rollo Carpenter, put it in a video explainer produced by PopSci.com, "You can call it a conversational Wikipedia if you like."
The key to Cleverbot's success is that it doesn't respond solely on the basis of the last thing typed, but keeps track of words and phrases that have come up in the conversation already. As Carpenter explained, "It looks back to the whole conversation and says, there are maybe tens of thousands of people who have maybe responded to 'how are you?' in the past; which of those tens of thousands of responses is most suitable to use this time?" [How Do Calculators Calculate?]