Definition

chatterbot (chatbot)

A chatterbot is a program that attempts to simulate the conversation or "chatter" of a human being. Chatterbots such as "Eliza" and "Parry" were well-known early attempts at creating programs that could at least temporarily fool a real human being into thinking they were talking to another person. A chatterbot can be thought of as the spokesperson for an artificial intelligence (AI).

Chatterbots can be text-based or voice-based. Typically, chatterbots use machine learning algorithms to improve the accuracy of their natural language and voice recognition capabilities. As the end user interacts with the bot, deep learning programming gets better at predicting what the appropriate response is when communicating with an end user. Chatterbots can be stateless or stateful.  A stateless chatterbot approaches each interaction as if it was with a new user. A stateful chatterbot is more sophisticated; it can review past interactions and frame new responses in context.

Chatterbots have been used in instant messaging (IM) applications and online interactive games for many years. Chatterbots can be added to a buddy list or provide a single game player with an entity to interact with while awaiting other "live" players. If the bot is sophisticated enough to pass the Turing Test, the person may not even know they are interacting with a computer program.

Chatterbots may also be referred to as chat bots (chatbots), virtual assistants, conversational agents, digital assistantsvirtual agents or smart advisors.

This was last updated in July 2016

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