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Blog » Chatbots


Saturday 15th September 2012

When youngsters communicate using IM (instant messaging) instead of talking in person, a strange thing tends to happen: everything tends to be exacerbated. "Issues" appear to get shaped out of what one might regard as "reasonable proportion". Although now more commonplace, this is nothing new. In 1966, a computer program called ELIZA was developed by Joseph Weizenbau. This is an example of a 'natural language processing' computer program. It takes human input and responds like a psychotherapist, and has been known to produce interesting results! People have poured out their heart and soul, not quite realising that they are 'talking' to a computer and not a human being.

So why am I writing about this? Chatbots could be used to encourage learners to be more reflective. Say for example there was a chatbot that was always interested in evaluating ideas. That chatbot would then help learners to evaluate their work. Just before you go to seek out the latest chatbot, keep in mind that different chatbots have different agendas and may not be useful. Some can even be abusive! So if there is anyone at MIT reading this, here's your chance to develop an educational chatbot to assist with evaluating ideas. This isn't to say that such bots should replace humans - they could be simply used as an additional tool to help encourage more critical thinking when it comes to evaluating project work.

This one might be interesting in English if you're studying Shakespeare - ask it any question about the subject -