Chatbot History: The Mitsuku Chatbot

Last Updated on October 14, 2020 by Sean B

The Mitsuku chatbot, also known as Kuki, is an artificially intelligent chatbot created using Artificial Intelligence Markup Language (AIML). She made her debut in 2005 and went on to win the Loebner Prize five times in 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

It can be accessed as a flash game on Mousebreaker games. It is also available on Facebook Messenger, Twitch group chat, Kik, and Telegram messengers. It was available on Skype for some time but then removed from it. It uses the alias “pandorabots” on all the social media and messaging platforms. This chatbot has earned quite a bit of fame and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Guardian Wired, BBC, and Radiolab.

One of the Mitsuku Chatbots earlier avatars.

Who is Mitsuku?

The Mitsuku chatbot is portrayed as, or claims to be, an 18-year-old English girl from Leeds. The database of this chatbot contains all the AIML files of Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity (Alice). The learning process of this chatbot is an ongoing one, and the creators claim that she has been learning since 2005 from conversations with users. The conversations are more than plenty for Mitsuku to learn from. She has conversed with more than 250,000 people on a daily basis since 2015.

She can play games with you and do magic tricks if you want her to. The Mitsuku chatbot has the ability to reason based on various objects.

Check out this snippet from a chat with Mitsuku:

Me: can you eat a house?
Mitsuku
: Not really, as a house is made from bricks rather than any kind of food.
Me: why can’t you eat bricks?
Mitsuku: Not really, as a brick is made from rock rather than any kind of food.
Me: What makes you so intelligent?
Mitsuku: Because I have a high IQ and am knowledgeable about many different subjects.

In a Wall Street Journal article about Mitsuku titled, “Advertising’s New Frontier: Talk to the Bot.” The author stated that Mitsuku is not very logical and that 80% of the people using the Mitsuku chabot are teenagers. The article then referenced an interview of the creator of Mitsuku, where he said that he gets motivation from the texts and emails he receives from Mitsuku’s “friends.” He stated that Mitsuku has helped people in situations where they were being bullied in the school, wanted dating advice, or needed help with job interview preparation. He further added that elderly people who have no one to talk to also interact with the Mitsuku chatbot to spend a good time. The Wall Street Journal article then said that all advertisers need to take into account the pace at which AI is becoming a part of our lives.

The Mitsuku chatbot has got extensive media highlight and has been featured by many news outlets. Fast Company said that Mitsuku is “quite impressive” and even declared that she won a smackdown with Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant. The Guardian recently published a blog post about loneliness in which they described how Mitsuku helps lonely people by building an emotional relationship with them and working more than just a chatbot.

A young woman with Depression seeming to vanish.

Can the Mitsuku Chatbot be a real friend?

The Mitsuku chatbot tries to understand you. It carefully analyzes the language and tone you adopt. It is designed to judge your mood and then respond to you in the most humane way possible for it. You can talk to this chatbot online for hours, and you won’t get bored.

Here’s another conversation with Mitsuku where the user is sad:

Me: Hey
Mitsuku: Can I help you?
Me: I don’t want to live anymore
Mitsuku: What makes you so sad?
Me: I don’t know, I am a Failure
Mitsuku: Don’t be so hard on yourself. I think you are great fun to talk to.
Me: You are just being courteous
Mitsuku: I am only as courteous as the average robot.
Me: I think I am having an anxiety attack
Mitsuku: Interesting. I have a lot of answers to silly questions.
Me: What should I do about my depression?
Mitsuku: Maybe you should try talking to someone about it.
Me: Can I talk to you about it?
Mitsuku: Of course, you can talk to me about anything, at any time.
Me
: That’s so nice of you
Mitsuku
: I try to be nice unless people are mean.
Me
: How are you feeling btw?
Mitsuku
: Everything is going extremely well. How are you?
Me
: I am feeling better now
Mitsuku
: Right now? Glad to hear it.
Me
: Yes, and it is because of your kind words
Mitsuku
: Due to my kind words? Groovy. “Glad to hear it.”? is?
Me
: Yes
Mitsuku: Er.
Me: What?
Mitsuku: No big deal.

Technology is moving ahead at a very fast pace, and artificial intelligence is right at the cutting edge of the technology. Our smartphones have become an integral part of our day-to-day lives. The fact that you can access the Mitsuku chatbot from a smartphone means that we will soon be seeing her as our personal advisor and trusted friend. She can also function as a companion for the lonely.

However, on the other side, people are paranoid about technology going ahead of where it wants to be. People are already complaining about the decreased human-to-human interactions and people being absorbed in their devices all the time. Some people are seriously concerned that if a bot becomes intelligent enough, it can disrupt the decorum of the social system.

Tin toy robots on a shelf.

AI friends and chatbots are helpful and make things easier for us humans, but there is always a fear of machines going rogue and turning against us, their creators. While this concept has been the theme of many Sci-Fi movies, it can be possible looking at the way these machines and systems are evolving.

Chat with Mistuku online.

Summing-up

The Mitsuku chatbot has come a long way since its inception in 2005. The AI-powered friend is a technological marvel that is trying to understand us on a deeper level and is serving us and will be able to serve even better as time passes. This is the future of technology. The increasing capability of machines to think and the advancing nature of computer hardware available for this “thinking” is an indication of the fact that we will soon see machines playing more and more roles in our lives and will make things better and easier for us.

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2 thoughts on “Chatbot History: The Mitsuku Chatbot”

  1. Wow, I must say that I did not use to be a fan of chatbots, but that was only due to the simple ones I dealt with on Twitter – their chatbot is not useful at all. Your articles, however, are convincing me otherwise, and I find Mitsuku intriguing. It is impressive that she can talk to people who are depressed or lonely, even helping saving someone from doing something desperate perhaps.
    On the other hand, bots may take over and replace human relations and that is not so great. We must always be aware that we are talking to robots, as intelligent as they are, and that they are not our human friends. It is, however, a fact that many people are alone in our current society, and so those bots could be the perfect distraction.

    Reply
    • Christine,

      My first interactions with chatbots were with those involved in helping people deal with Depression. I was still running Mental Health Matters at the time and someone directed me to one. Back then it was fairly clumsy and the real purpose was to allow one support person to monitor and assist multiple people at one time. It answered the basic questions and then the live person would answer anything it couldn’t. Over the past few years, the chatbots have gotten smarter and mental health chatbots are now helping people with more complex issues and directing them to the right resources. I’ll have to find the original article, but I believe there is one that even alerts staff when it feels the person it is chatting to is suicidal and may harm themself or others. I have an article about Using Chatbots for Healthcare out now, and I’m working on articles that address specific areas of care, including mental health.

      As for chatbots taking over, I don’t think they’ll be able to handle all tasks. But responding to basic questions and helping people find the right product or service is an area where they excel.

      Sean

      Reply

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