The History of Chatbots

The History of Chatbots

Technology has grown and advanced so much over the past few decades it is actually rather impressive when we take the time to really think about it. It is easy to forget how impressive our technology is and what it is capable of doing. We also tend to forget how dependent we have become on this technology, and some people are adamant that it is a terrible thing, while others are more aware of how it has helped so many people. Chatbots are one of those things that we have grown with that has been designed to help us in our day to day lives.

Before Siri and Alexa

Siri and Alexa have become important aspects of our lives. But have you ever wondered who their ancestors are and where they came from? Well, chatbots have been around since the sixties. The first chatbot was created in 1966 and her name was Eliza. Eliza was created to mimic human conversation. The next chatbot was created in 1972 and its name was Parry. Parry was created to simulate a person with paranoid schizophrenia. These two chatbots were the pioneers of the virtual assistants we love today.

Turing Test

A means to test the ability of the chatbots and to prove their ‘humanity’, they needed to pass the Turing artificial intelligence test. This test was created by Alan Turing in the 1950s to test a machine’s intelligent behaviour and to distinguish it from a human. This was based on behaviour and its type of responses. It was designed to identify the naturalness of the responses. Eliza did pass the Turing Test, at least for a short while.

The Interaction of the Chatbots

As part of an interesting experiment, Eliza and Parry were set up to talk to each. The conversation was then analysed by a number of psychiatrists. The psychiatrists compared the Eliza and Parry conversation. As another part of this study Parry and a number of human patients were set up to have a conversation. Another group of psychiatrists were asked to analyse those transcripts, and only 48% of them were able to correctly identify who was the machine and who was the human.


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