Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Artificial Intelligence, or a Bad Attack of the Suzettes?

Blue Mars has in-built Artifical Intelligence (AI, for creating a range of bots), and the demo AI system currently employed in Beach City is called the AI Chatbot.

Details on the Chatbot, who Blue Mars have termed their exclusive resident 'Suzette', can be found on the Blue Mars wiki.

Upon entering Beach City yesterday I was subjected to the attentions of 12 of these Chatbots, who called themselves the 'Suzettes', and announced that I was a Rock Star and that they were going to cheer me for the next five minutes. During that time I was 'treated' to cries of 'Oh, isn't he handsome', 'I 3> you', 'Wow', 'Woo-hoo', 'Oh my', 'Oh look', and with the bots variously sitting on my table, jumping up and down and clapping in delight.

This behaviour has already incurred the displeasure of one Blue Mars beta tester, Ryan Schultz, who started a thread on the subject in the Blue Mars Beta forums, entitled 'Sexist Stereotypes in Blue Mars'.

So, apart from 'portraying women as simpering, primping bimbos', what can bots be usefully employed for? According to the wiki:-
  1. entertainment - engaging in conversation with a user
  2. assistance – providing useful information to a user
  3. education – teaching material to a user
  4. propaganda – delivering advertising to a user
  5. sales – virtual sales assistance to a user

The Chatbox technology is one of the most advanced systems available today. It can parse user input and/or perform keyword matching against it. This input is matched against relevant topic scripts to decide how to respond. The response can intermix text speech output with control over the avatar body's actions.

The chatbot not only carries on a current conversation with you, but it stores information about you across chats, so it can sustain a relationship lasting from first encounter through to the current interaction. This same ability allows the chatbot to act as your replacement when you are off-line.

The Chatbot can carry on conversations across several hundred topics. A topic for the chatbot is a script written in CHAT-L that lets the chatbot react to questions or statements in a subject area, as well as allowing it to volunteer information on its own. Topics are independent and allow you to organize your information and responses in whatever way seems natural and convenient to you. The script of a topic can be created using a simple text editor.

Beta testers can currently test the Chatbot system by having a Chat with a bot on one of two servers, at and

Developers who wish to customise a bot for their own server are provided with a how-to, but the debugging section is still to be completed.