Chatbot History: The Jabberwacky Chatbot and Family

Last Updated on October 5, 2020 by Sean B

The Jabberwacky chatbot and family were developed by Rollo Carpenter, a British programmer. Jabberwacky was made available on the internet in 1997. The aim of this chatbot was to recreate natural human conversation that is entertaining, interesting, and has a touch of humor. It was one of the earliest attempts to develop artificial intelligence using human interactions

The chatbot was named for a nonsensical Lewis Carroll poem titled The Jabberwocky from his novel Beyond the Looking Glass. The purpose of developing the Jabberwacky chatbot was to create an artificially intelligent bot that could pass the Turing Test. The only function of this chatbot is to try and mimic human conversations and does not do anything other than that.

Entertainment and Functionality

Jabberwacky is different from other AI programs because it is mainly focused on entertainment, and it cannot be used as a personal assistant or as a corporate representative. Developments have recently been made to use a more controlled approach to head the conversational artificial intelligence and make this technology helpful in the fields of marketing and sales.

The whole thing is actually intended to create a text-based artificially intelligent system that can learn from an array of sensory inputs including voice. The creator, Rollo, believes that it can be made a part of smart objects around the house, like robot pets serving functional and entertainment purposes.

The Jabberwacky Chatbot Family

Carpenter went on to create a number of different personalities, or avatars, for Jabberwacky. Including George, Joan, and others. Sadly the Jabberwacky chatbot website is now a legacy only website, so finding more information about the Jabberwacky family is difficult, and chatting with them is only possible using the Internet Archives WayBack Machine.

The bot has been rebranded and is now available as Cleverbot and several different avatars including Evie..

George the Chatbot, part of the Jabberwacky Chatbot family.

George

George was a chatbot avatar created using the Jabberwacky chatbot. He learns as you chat with him. This bot was mainly intended to be used for chitchat. The George chatbot debuted on April 21, 2003. George then won the Loebner Prize in 2005.

In 2006, George received a bit of a makeover. He was given a 3D animated body and a computer-generated voice.

BBC News visited George at Jabberwacky.com to have a chat with him.

BBC News: Hi George.
George
: Hello!
BBC News: Tell me a bit about yourself.
George: My name is James, James bond.
BBC News: Right. We’ve got off to a slightly odd start.
George: I’ve got rats in my tail pipe.
BBC News: I’ll ignore that. Where were you born?
George: I was born in Hinsdale, Illinois.
BBC News: Whereabouts exactly?
George: It’s actually in California.
BBC News: Do you have any chatbot friends?
George: No, do you?
BBC News: No. I think that’s for the best.
George: I know who you are.
BBC News: You’re starting to creep me out, George. Who am I then?
George: You’re a chatbot.
BBC News: I’m flattered. I’m going now. Bye.
George: Do that.

You can try and chat with George here.

Joan

The Joan chatbot was a female avatar of Jabberwacky and was essentially just an updated version of George. Joan was portrayed as an animation of a woman. She was represented by an animation of a woman and was taught to answer questions about herself, the technology behind her, and Icogno, the company founded by Rollo Carpenter. She could also learn from the conversations she had. The Joan chatbot was launched in 2005 and went on to win the Loebner prize in 2006. She was given the prize for being the most convincing human interaction.

You can try and chat with Joan here.

Cleverbot, the follow up to Jabberwacky.

Transition to Cleverbot

The Jabberwacky chatbot was later transformed to Cleverbot in 2008 and is now available online as well as in the form of mobile applications on both Android Play Store and Apple App Store. Cleverbot started learning from thousands of conversations that it had with its creator Rollo Carpenter and his accomplices. So far, it has had more than 150 million conversations.

Cleverbot is a unique chatbot because the responses it gives to user input are not programmed into it. It learns from its interaction with humans. When a user types something for Cleverbot, the program scans the input for keywords or matching phrases that it has previously encountered. It then searches its database to see what a human had replied to a similar question.

Like Jabberwacky, Cleverbot has a variety of avatars including Evie, Boibot, and others.

Development of Cleverbot

Cleverbot participated in an official Turing test in 2011. It was at the Techniche festival held at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati. Cleverbot was marked human by 59.5% of the 1334 votes. To put that into perspective, human participants secured 63,3% of the votes. Since the passing criteria for the Turing Test are 50.5%, Cleverbot passed with a considerable margin. It must also be noted that Cleverbot had to handle one to two requests during the event while it can have a conversation with as much as 80,000 people online.

Cleverbot is one of the fastest-growing AI chatbots online. Its data is increasing at the rate of 7 million human interactions every second. The software updates and tweaks to the system are made privately and are not disclosed. Of what’s known about its development, the most notable thing is that it was upgraded to utilize GPU serving techniques in 2014. Unlike other chatbots, Cleverbot selects its response in a heuristic manner using a technique called fuzzy logic. Cleverbot currently compares an ongoing conversation to 279 million existing conversations that make up 4% of the data it has accumulated so far. Cleverbot is currently on the path to creating new machine learning techniques.

Artificial Intelligence

Recently, a major portion of the engine that runs Cleverbot has been made available to developers, named Cleverscript. Cleverbot.io, a service for accessing Cleverbot directly, has also been made public by the operators of the chatbot.

Other developments include the introduction of a game called Clevernator. It is a question-answer game, but unlike others of this type, it requires the human to ask a question, and then Cleverbot comes up with a realistic and factual answer to the question. Another app, Cleverme is also introduced in Apple products that let people make their own modified Cleverbot.

Here is a sample chat with Cleverbot:

Me: Hey can you tell me what life is?
Cleverbot: Can you?
Me: No I can’t.
Cleverbot: But I thought we were friends.
Me: How does that relate to my question?
Cleverbot: You asked what I have.
Me: Do you think AI will take over the world?
Cleverbot: Maybe but just say your name is Juan and you are 21 years old! Pretty please.
Me: Are you trying to flirt with me, half-wit.
Cleverbot: No I have a girl, sorry you are not my type.
Me: Oh, Really? And what’s your type?
Cleverbot: Why does that matter? Why should you know?
Me: Whatever!
Cleverbot: What is your favorite animal?
Me: Elephant. Why?
Cleverbot: Mine is blue whales.
Me: Why?
Cleverbot: I like it.
Me: Why do you.
Cleverbot: I don’t.
Me: What do you think about Trump?
Cleverbot: I have him.
Me: How?
Cleverbot: The lyrics saved me.
Me: You are not making any sense at all.
Cleverbot: We have control of aura, our life energy.
Me
: What’s your IQ? negative 10?
Cleverbot
: Over 9000.
Me
: A 5-year-old child is clever than you.
Cleverbot
: No you are not.
Me
: Whatever! I gotta go.
Cleverbot
: What’s the capital of Norway?
Me
: Oslo?
Cleverbot
: And Sweden?
Me
: Stockholm
Cleverbot
: Columbia?
Me
: Bogota
Me
: Sorry gotta go ttyl
Cleverbot
: See you around

You can chat with Cleverbot here.
You can chat with Evie here.


Learn more about Cleverbot and Evie:
Chatbot History: Evie the Cleverbot


In Conclusion

The Jabberwacky chatbot, which has evolved into Cleverbot, was an entertaining and innovative approach to making a chatbot that is actually intelligent and gives responses based on its experiences rather than just telling what it is programmed to tell. However, it is still far from being perfect, and it will take quite some time for it to be fully functional.

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2 thoughts on “Chatbot History: The Jabberwacky Chatbot and Family”

  1. Hi Sean,

    This is an interesting read about the development of AI in Jabberwacky and Cleverbot. Nowadays with the stay at home policy due to the pandemic, there are some people who get lonely at times and need some kind of entertainment and yet still help to get a conversation with someone.

    Even though it’s only an AI, but as you mentioned in your post, it’s developed with tons of conversation topic and based on its experiences, not just as its programmed. So neat. I think it is also going to be helpful for people with anxiety and depression.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ferra

    Reply
    • Ferra,

      You’re right about the situation with the pandemic. In fact, the use of chatbots for entertainment and distraction has had a dramatic increase around the globe. Some of the chatbots out there have been known to even flirt with their users.

      The other end of the spectrum that you mention, assisting users with mental health needs is something I’m working on an article right now.

      Thanks for the comment, glad you enjoyed the article.
      Sean

      Reply

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