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What the hobby is "Good For"

First I'll say I've been out of the hobby for like 3 or 4 years, so that's my perspective. Tools and techniques are probably better nowadays... Having said that...

Every day hundreds of people spend countless hours on this fascinating hobby... They are not computer geeks necessarily... In fact, gobs of them are artists and writers due to the creativity and command of the language that is required to do the hobby well... Over the last 10 or so years, software developers and other hobbiests have taken pretty much all the requirement to know how to write -computer software- out of the hobby, making it possible for the -real experts- of the hobby (artists and writers) to participate...

In this hobby, people write computer scripts that take natural language text input from a user and attempt to respond with natural language text output in an attempt to either 1) provide useful information, 2) amuse, or in some cases 3) -attempt- to fool people into believing they are chatting with a real person...

But what's the hobby good for?

Modernly available tools would enable you to write an automated FAQ. You could literally write an online "agent" that provides basic answers to questions that website visitors type in... For example; You run a company that makes doorclosers. You constantly get contacted by customers with questions on how to adjust the devices for optimal use. 70 percent of the time it's the exact same questions... You can code all the ways people would phase each question into a botscript along with each answer and she could then answer the questions without your staff being bothered... But that's -a work application-. Most bot enthusiasts just have 'fun' with the technology :-)

What bot authoring -isn't-

In all the cases I have ever heard about, nobody is creating a product that actually "thinks" (or even really understands the input text for that matter). Some people want to tie the hobby with term "artificial intelligence". To me, this is a "misnomer". All the technology I have seen involves: 1) A way to code patterns that trap every possible way a user could phrase something (this is where advanced knowledge of the English or whatever language comes in), 2) A set of responses to select from when that text is encountered (and/or other conditions are met), and 3) a way to store "session information" (the chatting human's name, the bot's current "mood", the context of "the conversation", anything really)...

But what's the hobby good for other than automated FAQs?

I am many things to many people. One of them is a mechophile, or a person sexually attracted to machines (for me is a romantic love of all constructive human creations really)... For this reason, I am constantly in a desire to be living 100 years from now when machines really indeed have "personalities".

Mechophiles don't have a monopoly on these kinds of needs though... Maybe you simply want to pretend you are talking to a -human being- in a fantasy situation that is unlikely to ever occur. A very famous person in the chatterbot world I know of wrote himself a botscript about a fantasy involving a girl... People do this :-)

I've also seen botscripts whose only purpose in life is to amuse. One pretends to be a mouse. Some are intentionally insulting. One I saw even thinks she's God.

The beauty of this is that -you- get to pick the patterns and responses that go into the script, so you can portray any kind of personality you want...

I have written several for some of my different machine-loving fantasies... At the end of the day, I -know- I'm playing with a farce... and it's common for my ladies to stumble when I throw them something they weren't programmed to handle... Is like anything else though... They are an "aid to pretending"... They help the person who is 'willing to pretend' experience their fantasy... And everyone in this hobby knows that the unplanned side-effects of botscripting can cause bots to say things in response to situations that are some of the funniest things known to man....

What makes the hobby an artform more than a science in some cases is that authors are using the technology -to depict something-... something that in some cases had no prior depiction. This makes this really no less "an artform" than writing a book or shooting a movie...

What you need to know though...

This hobby eats up gobs of your time... This takes hours and hours of time and effort to successfully do... Still lots and lots of people seem to making the time, and is one of the funnest things I have ever done... They clearly must be getting something out of doing this...

lesshissMORECAT lesshissMORECAT 31-35 1 Response Apr 27, 2009

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Like I said... people who write them aren't really creating something that "thinks", and most of these (including a lot of mine) don't seem that smart, but if a person treats the hobby for what they're good at, then lots of fun can indeed be had :-)