Thursday, October 02, 2014

ChatScript by Bruce Wilcox

I have become interested in a chatbot scripting language / engine by Bruce Wilcox, 2-time winner of the Loebner Prize in Artificial Intelligence. I would call it a "new" language, but it has been around for a couple of years. It is new to me.

I was recently impressed by his program's performance in the 2014 Loebner finalist selection. ChatScript is a very powerful scripting language, and makes huge advances over AIML, and my own language EARL. I prefer EARL of AIML, although it can import AIML files, but AIML is a very inefficient way to program a bot. EARL makes some advances, in terms of sets and expected replies, or rejoinders as Bruce calls them.

Another advance in CS is negative expectations. In EARL, you can make sets of anticipated replies, but if the user responds with something not in one of the expected sets, the input gets a reply from the general pool of responses. CS allows for handling this in an elegant manner, and gives much more intelligent responses.

CS has another efficiency in that you give the simplest of expectations, and it automatically handles various conjugations and ordering of the response's wording. Very neat in terms of consolidation of rules. An AIML file of about 50,000 rules can be handled "handily" by around 15,000 CS rules, and with better computer performance, both in CPU cycles and quality of responses.

The engine that comes with it can be ran as a standalone console mode, or as a server on a linux box or a mac computer. I was able to download, install, and compile the source in about 10 minutes with no problems on my MacBook Pro notebook. The source and binaries come with very good documentation, and some additional PAPERS that I recommend that you start with. The paper subdirectory is under the DOCUMENTATION directory.

All of this treasure trove is available at

If you're interested in where the future of chatbot development is taking place, I urge you to check it out!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

West Caribbean Cruise / Return of the Jedi

Just got home from the cruise ship Carnival Ecstasy, leaving out of Miami. We got lucky at all our transportation exchanges, plane to ground transfer, cabs, busses, trains, all just about to leave when we got on.

On board the ship, they spared no opportunity to try and sell you things including the bottled water. The food was okay, but frankly, my wife is a better cook. Our take on the Carnival experience is that it is more "pop" oriented, loud music, all the pizza you can eat 24/7, etc. We went into the piano bar expecting west coast cool jazz and soothing classical music, but instead it was loud Billy Joel covers and requests for crowd participation.

Key West was a good stop on the way west, and we toured the Hemingway House. That was interesting, and we like cats, so everything there was good to us. We passed "Sloppy Joe's Bar" on a tour bus, but didn't go in there. Apparently the original bar was across the street.

We also docked at Cozumel Mexico, where we rented a beach house with a chef, and private beach. My wife went out on a kayak while I sat with a new friend drinking real tequila and piƱa colada's. The food was great, and there were only 8 of us there. I think that was my favorite part of the cruise. It was so beautiful and felt secluded and tranquil.

There was a LOT of walking on this trip, and I'm proud to say that hips gave me no pain, one of them is artificial (cobalt chromium steel with a titanium shaft.) Security was tight at the Miami International airport. I got x-rayed, patted down, hands swabbed, but really no pain. I'm glad for the security. I would say that airport traffic on Labor Day was very sparse in ATL, our MD-80 was full on the way back from MIA.

It helped that they had satellite internet on the ship, so I was able to check in to our Delta flight home a day prior to leaving. That saved a lot of time. I had chosen our seats going and coming before we left home.

All in all, a good trip. Next time perhaps we'll switch back to Royal Caribbean.


Saturday, June 07, 2014

SERIAL ALBUM by Dutch Cartoonist