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Chatterbox Challenge > Botmasters > Ethan Elliott-Williams Go Back
Name: Ethan Elliott-Williams
Age: 18
Sex: Male
State: Woodstock, Maine
Country: USA
Chatterbots Stan
What gave you the idea of developing a bot?
It started out as a little project that one of my friends came up with: to make a bot on IRC that would talk to people who didn't know it was a bot and try to get funny responses out of them. Somehow I heard about a Chatterbot contest and decided to develop the original program so that it could specifically go one-on-one with a person.

Is creating bots a passion for you? A hobby?
Entirely and only a hobby. Well, a passion too I guess, but I emphasize hobby because I rarely spend a majority of my free time working on bots.

When did you start creating bots? Why?
I started creating bots around 2 years ago, just as a way to get some laughs for myself and pass the long, lonely hours of my average day. ;)

What language is your bot programmed in?
mIRC script. Not very official, but it's extremely versatile and it gets the job done.

How much time do you spend working on your bot per week/month/year?
Maybe an hour or two a week. Not nearly enough time, but like I said, bots are only one aspect of my many-faceted personality.

In your opinion, what are the best qualities of your bot?
The best quality of my bot - in my opinion - is that he really sounds like me when I'm talking to someone in real life, which is what I was going for. People can go different routes when creating a bot, but one of my objectives was to make him as human as possible. I don't try to give him goofy responses that nobody would really say in real life because that destroys the illusion that he is a fellow human being. Basically, because the concept of the original project was to trick people into thinking a program was a person, I focused most of my energies into emulating the way a real conversation works in IRC. When one of my friends says "this bot sounds exactly like you," I know my work is paying off because that's the quality I consider the best.

What is your ultimate goal for your bot?
I'd guess the obvious goal is to make him as real as possible. To win a contest, or at least make it to the finals.

How do you see chatterbots being used in the future?
I definitely see chatterbots becoming a virtual shoulder-to-cry-on, an outlet that people could go to when they need to talk to someone. Like a confessional. Or a psychiatrist. Or a guidance counciler. All of those. And much, much more.

Can chatterbots replace humans?
Sure. There are already many bots that the average human can't distinguish from humans. Even my initial prototype that I sent rampant over IRC ended up fooling people into thinking it was a bot 75% of the time. Once chatterbots have developed to the point where 99% of all humans can't tell whether they are real or artificial intelligence, there will be no need for true human contact and the human race will cease to exist. Either that, or humans will continue to flurish with chatterbots as a mainstay in society.

What is your favorite bot memory?
Probably the time on IRC when the bot totally tricked a guy into thinking it was a girl somewhere. The guy ended up having a 5-page conversation (I saved the log) with this "girl" and never once figured out that it was a bot. I knew then that I was on the right track. :)

What was your worst bot moment?
Probably the time one of my friends, who knew it was just a program, tried to confuse it as much as possible. Both my friend and my bot made fools out of themselves. It wasn't pretty.

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