The History and Evolution of Chatbots


Alan Turing, the English computer scientist, had long wondered about the potential for a computer program to communicate with humans and generate more natural-sounding responses. This question prompted him to devise a test that shows how well the program can think like a human. It was called the “Turing Test” and the conversation with “Turing” was the beginning of the evolution of chatbot applications. Chatbots are designed applications to imitate a human dialogue; whether by generating text, speech, or both. In this article, we explore the turning points in this story of evolution.


In 1966, Joseph Weizenbaum at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, created the first chatbot, Eliza, to imitate the role of a psychotherapist and answer the questions of users. It is not surprising that the program was named after Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw’s play "Pygmalion", who uses language to produce an illusion. The drawbacks of this chatbot include its limited knowledge, inability to conduct long conversations, and inability to conduct conversations on different topics.

The First Ever AI Chatbot: ELIZA (1966)


In 1988, the British programmer Rollo Carpenter created the chatbot "Jabberwacky" using an AI method called “contextual pattern matching"; this was one of the earliest attempts to create AI through human interaction. Jabberwocky is distinguished from its predecessors by its databases as it collects users' inputs. In 1997, the chatbot was launched on the Internet and was used for research and academic purposes.


In 1995, Richard Wallace created ALICE (Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity), also referred to as Alicebot, or simply Alice. It is designed to engage in conversations and respond as naturally as possible, using heuristic pattern matching. Alice imitates a young woman, who tells users her age, hobbies, and other fascinating facts, as well as answers their questions.


In 2010, Apple developed the chatbot “Siri”; a female-voiced personal assistant. It helps users perform several tasks, such as making calls, setting reminders, and searching the Internet.


In November 2022, Open AI launched ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer), a chatbot based on based on particular GPT foundation models. Since its launch, the application has received popular acceptance, and is estimated to have reached more than 100 million users.

ChatGPT is the most popular chatbot among users due to its impressive ability to provide accurate and timely answers. It can generate various texts and accurate answers, and can be used for a variety of purposes, such as summarization, translation, coding assistance, and design. ChatGPT is not limited to a specific domain, offers both free and paid versions, and has passed the Turing test.

What is ChatGPT? Open AI's ChatGPT Explained

After reviewing the most significant milestones in the evolution of chatbots, we find that they have become closer to human behavior. These advancements suggest that chatbots may be able to achieve a high level of emotional intelligence in the near future.

The History of Chatbots


Cover: Image by macrovector on Freepik

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