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Someone Introduced Siri to Eliza: iPhone App, Meet Your Artificially Intelligent Ancestor

img 0003 Someone Introduced Siri to Eliza: iPhone App, Meet Your Artificially Intelligent Ancestor

Eliza chatbot, flying solo

Jordan Mechner, creator of the wildly-popular Prince of Persia video game, had a rather genius idea this week.

“Since I got my iPhone 4S, I’ve been intrigued, fascinated and alarmed by Siri’s fast-growing capabilities. I thought it would make sense to introduce her to my psychotherapist, Eliza,” Mr. Mechner blogged.

AI historians know Eliza better as a computer program, written by MIT’s  Joseph Weizenbaum in the mid-60’s, that was one of the first examples of natural language processing. True obsessives would also note that Eliza failed the Turing Test, which means it isn’t actually artificially intelligent. Rather it uses pattern-recognition to processes users responses to scripts, most famously DOCTOR, which simulates a Rogerian pyschotherapist. (Guess Freud fell out of favor in the 60s?)

Eliza often surprised users with its shockingly human, therapist-like responses. In fact, the same technology has been downloaded into an iPhone app. Mr. Mechner, who says Eliza was “one of the (and longest) BASIC programs I typed into my then brand-new 16K Apple II in 1979″ introduced the two. “Despite their 45-year age difference and two-million-fold disparity in RAM,” he wrote, “I thought they understood each other remarkably well.”

Here’s how the conversation started:

ELIZA

Hello, I am Eliza.

SIRI

Hi.

ELIZA

How are you today? What would you like to discuss?

SIRI

I’m fine. Thanks for asking.

ELIZA

How long have you been fine. Thanks for asking?

SIRI

Hmm… Let me think…

ELIZA

Do you doubt you?

SIRI

I found three hotels matching “W” fairly close to you.

ELIZA

Oh…?

SIRI

With whom would you like to speak?

ELIZA

You’re not really talking about me, are you?

SIRI

Should I look for businesses by that name?

ELIZA

I don’t care about names. Please go on.

You can read the full transcript on Mr. Mechner’s blog. But what about getting Watson in on the game: world’s first AI threesome?

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