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It’s Very Nice to Meet You, Vira :-)

Posted by Diana Hawkins on March 23, 2012

“Have you ever been to Mexico?”

Why not ask Chatterbot “Vira” (pictured at left) who recently placed 4th an international competition (www.chatterboxchallenge.com) featuring 34 “bots” from around the world.

Vira is an internet-downloadable “chatterbot”, designed to simulate human intelligence and converse casually with humans when asked simple questions like, “What is 18+21+3” or “Can you give me an example of a living animal?”.

Created by Empire State College student Tom Joyce as final project for his CDL course Discrete Mathematics, Vira out-chatted 34 other English-speaking bots vying for a $1,000 cash prize.

Joyce’s work incorporates principles of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), which he refers to as “reinforced learning”, a combination of science and engineering which results in “intelligent” computer programs that can perform simple tasks like open an elevator door, interact within a video game, or have an actual speech-recognized conversation, like Vira.

“Finding ways to enjoy A.I. is important because designing it usually involves pushing the limits. Luckily building a machine that talks right back to you is an experience most find very entertaining and rewarding,” said Joyce, a New Jersey resident. “This is significant since it demonstrates that my research is going forward, and will provide a solid foundation for new and exciting innovations in the future,” he added.

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