Thursday, September 10, 2015

Two Dialogues Concerning the Cat

You may wonder why I have inflicted on you something so bland and indeed so tedious as the conversations below. I have several responses:
  1. This is exactly what talking to a cat would be like.
  2. These conversations are typical of general f/b and twitter chat.
  3. Few, if any AI/chatbot system today could chat like this.
  4. There are a number of technical issues (for AI) which I mention at the end.
  5. ... and finally, the cat asked me to.

Designing the simulation of our cat, Shadow, requires test data. So today, Clare conducted two interviews, or dialogues, with the cat which will be analysed in computational terms in a future post. The idea is that Virtual Shadow should be able to participate in conversations like this.
Dialogue 1

1. Clare: Hi Puss.
    Cat: Hi Clare.
2. Clare: You been asleep?
    Cat: I sleep all day.
3. Clare: Do you prowl all night?
    Cat: I like to meet with my friends.
4. Clare: How many?
    Cat: There’s the big cat who chases me.
5. Clare: Go on.
    Cat: Then there’s the badger, who chases me.
6. Clare: And ...
    Cat: And then there are lots of voles.
7. Clare: I like voles.
    Cat: Tasty, aren’t they.
8. Clare: I also like badgers.
    Cat: Yes, they seem to like me, too.
9. Clare: Do you eat with the badgers?
    Cat: As far away as possible.
10. Clare: Do you play chase with the badgers?
      Cat: Less about the badgers, please!
11. Clare: Do you like living here?
      Cat: Could be better.
12. Clare: How?
      Cat: A fridge I could open.
13. Clare: Would you like a friend cat in the house?
      Cat: I wouldn’t mind a minion!
14. Clare: See ya!
      Cat: Miaow!

Dialogue 2

1. Clare: Hi Puss.
    Cat: Miaow!
2. Clare: I’m really sick of Nigel today!
    Cat: Just today, then?
3. Clare: Yes, just today.
    Cat: Perhaps he’ll clean it up.
4. Clare: You know him very well!
    Cat: How has he irritated you?
5. Clare: He’s had his nose in his computer for six hours.
    Cat: And what were you doing?
6. Clare: Talking.
    Cat: To yourself?
7. Clare: To Nigel!
    Cat: You mean his tablet! Time to confiscate it!
8. Clare: Perhaps you could walk on the screen?
    Cat: What’s for dinner tonight?
9. Clare: For me or for you?
    Cat: I’m a cat: think about it.
10. Clare: For you – Whiskers chicken bits.
      Cat: I like variety.
11. Clare: You say you don’t get variety?
      Cat: Chicken, chicken, chicken!
12. Clare: Spoilt!
      Cat: I’m a cat.
13. Clare: Most cats have dried food, you little brat.
      Cat: Not so little, these days!
14. Clare: What about brain food? What would you like?
      Cat: Brains, minced, should do it.
15. Clare: Sorry, no can do.
      Cat: Miaow!
You may be surprised at how many difficult issues of vocabulary, grammar, parsing, reference, topic management and knowledge representation are raised by these apparently simple dialogues.