Sunday, August 09, 2015

Simulating your significant other

Talking Angela: a tiresome app
I've told Clare that I'm writing a simulation of her - and that this explains why I spend long hours toiling away upstairs in  my study generating Prolog code.

I'm not sure whether she believes me ...

'Virtual Clare' will not be a chatbot in the mould of Eliza, or modern equivalents such as Cleverbot (try it here). Chatbot conversation is purposeless, vacuous and tedious beyond belief as it mindlessly pattern-matches canned responses*. But, as Ed Feigenbaum at Stanford noted with regard to expert systems, “In the knowledge lies the power.”

There were some expert systems a while back which explored a kind of creativity and learning. Given a comprehensive list of facts and a bunch of rules, they would apply the rules to generate new facts and then use heuristics to weed out those that were obvious, pointless and redundant. The system kind of saw the implications of what it knew. You can see how this might beef up a conversational chatbot's repertoire.

It's impossible for me to replicate the knowledge of an adult person - the significant other simply has had too many experiences, has too many memories and too much knowledge of the intricate web of daily life. The domain of conversation has to be drastically reduced -- for example, to the worldview of a cat.

Yes, notwithstanding Wittgenstein's aversion to the idea, I think Gossip Cat is coming back!


* So I guess that makes simulating me pretty easy, then ...