Last Updated on November 10, 2020 by Sean B
Chatterbot Julia was the creation of Dr. Michael Mauldin, the founder of the Lycos Search Engine, in 1991. It was notable not only for competing in the Loebner Prize, but for being the first use of the word “chatterbot” which developed naturally into the term chatbot that we use today.
Chatbots are computer programs that can talk to users via text or speech and mimic the natural language conversational style of humans. Chatbots are used by businesses to talk to their customers, people make friends with them, and they are also in modern smartphones as virtual assistants. Chatbots are standardized against the Turing Test. It was a test proposed by an English mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing who named it The Imitation Game. The test is designed to judge the ability of a chatbot that can successfully mimic the responses of an actual human being.
Chatbot Julia – The “First ChatterBot”
First, let’s be clear, the first chatbot ever was created in 1966, and it was not Chatterbot Julia, it was ELIZA. What we’re talking about is the creation of the term chatterbot, which was introduced 28 years later.
Michael Mauldin, who is a computer scientist and the founder of the Lycos web search engine, coined the term chatterbot in 1994. Michael created a chatbot named Julia in 1991 and entered his first Loebner Prize contest. She went on to compete in several other Loebner Prize events.
Chatterbot Julia was an attempt to recreate human conversation in a natural way. While Julia didn’t win the Loebner Prize, she was a precursor to some of the major advancements in the chatbot landscape.
The term “ChatterBot”
The term chatterbot was derived from the term verbot. Verbot is a combination of two words, verse meaning talk, and bot from robot. Dr. Mauldin started using the word chatterbot to refer to chatbots as we know them today. The shortening to chatbot from chatterbot happened naturally as far as I can tell.
Sadly you can’t chat with Chatterbot Julia today, but you can visit Julia’s homepage and from there you can read a little more about her. If you’re interested, you can also read some of Julia’s chat from the 1994 Loebner Prize where she placed third.
Michael Mauldin’s Notable Work
Chatterbot Julia was then refined by Dr. Mauldin and Peter Plantec in 1997. The duo laid the foundation of Virtual Personalities Inc. with the aim to make a virtual human program that would recreate natural speech and would also come up with real-time animations to show expressions along with speech response. Various beta versions of the verbot were released for public testing before the final version, dubbed version 3 was released in 2000. The list of Dr. Mauldin’s work for chatbots is as follows
- The ancestor of all the verbots created by Dr. Mauldin and Virtual Personalities Inc. was Rog-O-Matic.
- Julia has been available for chat on the internet since 1989 with one name or another.
- Julia was the precursor to Lycos, the web search robot created by Dr. Mauldin.
- Sylvie is the evolved form of Julia and is capable of flexible human reactions.
Dr. Mauldin has or is a partner in the following patents:
- “Method for searching a queued and ranked constructed catalog of files stored on a network”
- “Method and apparatus for creating a searchable digital video library and a system and method of using such a library”
- “System and method for skimming digital audio/video data”
- “Virtual human interface for conducting surveys”
Dr. Mauldin is now living a retired life and dedicates his time to Robot Fighting League.
Future Trends of Chatbots
Chatbots are getting more and more popular every day. They are everywhere from our smart appliances to smartphones and from customer service to receptions. Chatbots make the things that were previously done by humans all the more accurate and efficient. In the near future, we will be seeing Artificial Intelligence powered chatbots doing everything from driving cars to responding to emergency and distress calls. The contributions of people like Dr. Mauldin can never be forgotten when the days comes when chatbots become an essential part of our lives.
Chatbots are gaining popularity and are doing many things we once thought only humans were capable of doing. Not all chatbots are equally popular, but we can never forget the fact that every single one of them was an integral part of the development of modern chatbots. Chatterbot Julia might not be the most popular of the chatbots, but the place chatbots now have in this world would not have been possible without it and without the contribution of its creator Dr. Mauldin.