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Eliza - your MUD therapist

By Michael Seifert

 

ELIZA was invented as a "computer therapist" in the early 1960's at MIT by Joseph Weizenbaum. Like it says on one of the many Eliza websites on the net:

"Note: Eliza is dumb! This is common knowledge. Please don't write to me telling me she's dumb, or how to fix it. If you don't like the way she works, you can change the code yourself. Just view source on this page to see the javascript, and save it to your hard drive. Then do a search for javascript documenation, and you should be able to make Eliza act any way you want. :)"

While studying Human Computer Interaction at Copenhagen University's Laboratory of Psychology, we had a lot of classes regarding artificial intelligence. Can machines think? Or more specifically, how can we define mahcine intelligence? In the past, some claimed that when a computer could beat a human being in chess, then it was surely intelligent. Obviously no one believes this to be true any more. The Turing test is today still what many people think as the next "goal" for computer intelligence. Basically the Turing test says:

"Imagine an 'imitation game', in which a human being and a computer would be interrogated under conditions where the interrogator would not know which was which, the communication being entirely by textual messages. If the interrogator can not distinguish them by questioning, then it would be unreasonable not to call the computer intelligent."

So now you're probably beginning to see why it was a lot of fun to include a computer therapist in a MUD. I built Eliza into Valhalla MUD, programmed just as the original Eliza. I logged all her conversations, and later on I stuided the logs and began tweaking and tuning the program to make it increasingly more "player" like. Obviously I also had to make her react to social commands as well as various cheats to make her appear on the "list of active players" and making her change name every so often.

 

In the following pages you can read some of the most log entries - trust me, some of them are very funny indeed, given the above background. Some of the greatest I have seen have been lost, but those that are there today are pretty okay...

 

Note: Even though she actually manages to trick some players for a very long time (sometimes days), it is not at all an indication that she has passed the Turing test. A few well considered questions will immediately blow her cover.

 

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Eliza meets Giel (pretty common conversation)

 

Eliza meets Tanu (very long conversation, player can't figure out if its a program) 

 

Eliza meets Grizwald (offended player looking to get even)

 

 

 



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