Abstract: This is a
technical presentation of A.L.I.C.E. (Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer
Entity) and AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language), set in context by
historical and philosophical ruminations on human
A.L.I.C.E., the first AIML-based personality program, won the Loebner Prize as
"the most human computer" at the annual Turing Test contests in
2000 and 2001. The program, and the organization that develops it, is a
product of the world of free software. More than 500 volunteers from around
the world have contributed to her
This talk describes the history of A.L.I.C.E. and AIML free software since 1995,
noting that the theme and strategy of deception and pretense upon which AIML is
based can be traced through the history of artificial intelligence research.
This paper goes on to show how to use AIML to create robot personalities like
that pretend to be intelligent and self-aware.
The bot 'personality' is a set of AIML files consisting of simple stimulus-response
modules called categories. Each <category> contains a <pattern>,
or "stimulus", and a <template>, or
"response". AIML software stores the stimulus-response categories
in a tree managed by an object called the Graphmaster. When a bot client inputs
text as a stimulus, the Graphmaster searches the categories for a matching <pattern>,
along with any associated context, and then outputs the associated <template>
as a response.
These categories can be structured to produce more complex humanlike responses
with the use of a very few markup tags. AIML bots make extensive use of the multi-purpose
recursive <srai> tag, as well as two AIML context tags, <that> and
<topic>. Conditional branching in AIML is implemented with the
<condition> tag. AIML implements the ELIZA personal pronoun swapping
method with the <person> tag.
Bot personalities are created and shaped through a cyclical process of supervised
called Targeting. Targeting is a cycle incorporating client, bot, and botmaster,
client inputs that find no complete match among the categories are logged by the
delivered as Targets the botmaster, who then creates suitable responses, starting
with the most common queries. The Targeting cycle produces a progressively
more refined bot personality. The art of AIML writing is most apparent in
creating default categories,
which provide noncommittal replies to a wide range of inputs.
The talk winds up with a survey of some of the philosophical literature on the
question of consciousness. We consider Searle's Chinese Room, and the view
that natural language understanding by computer is impossible. We note that
the proposition consciousness is an illusion" may be undermined by the
paradoxes it apparently implies. We conclude that A.L.I.C.E. does pass
the Turing Test, at least, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, for some of the
people some of the time.