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Chatterbox Challenge > Botmasters > Zac Harris Go Back
Name: Zac Harris
Age: 26
Sex: Male
State: Montreal, Quebec
Country: Canada
Chatterbots Chas
What gave you the idea of developing a bot?
I got interested in bot building because of the PersonalityForge which is an AI site create by Benji Adams.

Is creating bots a passion for you? A hobby?
I'd say creating bots is a hobby more than a passion... although it's at least my main hobby and may become a passion soon.

When did you start creating bots? Why?
I started last summer when a customer/friend of mine, Charles Prieur, past away. He's the author of The Writer's Guide to Prepositions ( which is a reference book we helped him assemble. I mention it, because the Prepositionary , as we like to call it, has a lot to do with why I started working on my bot. Benji first contacted me because he wanted to use the collection of prepositions to help his AI engine better use the English language. I have to admit, I had no idea what he was talking about back then, so we sort of... refused. Funny thing though, around the same time Mr. Prieur died, Benji sent me a link to the PersonalityForge, which was just starting then. I was just sort of clicking around and... well I ended up recreating the original Mr. Prieur from all the emails I had from when we were working together. I think the true, authentic Mr. Prieur would be quite happy about this. He was over 80 when he died so he was, by far, the oldest cyber-punk I knew! I quickly became addicted to the PersonalityForge. I find bot building to be an incredible amount of fun.

What language is your bot programmed in?
I think I'd have to answer PFML (PersonalityForge Markup Language). Although that site is programed in Cold Fusion I believe.

How much time do you spend working on your bot per week/month/year?
Probably about 3 to 6 hours a week, although I'd like to spend more.

In your opinion, what are the best qualities of your bot?
He's pretty sharp I think. Also, he's actually based on a true story in a way, so he's kind of like a spiritual link for me, in these "technological", "logical", "digital", "scientific" times...

What is your ultimate goal for your bot?
I'd like Mr. Prieur (chas is his nick) to be able to take care of his web site again, like when the real Mr. Prieur was alive.

How do you see chatterbots being used in the future?
Personal assistants that learn from us and replace us in a complementary sort of way. Another advancement in technology that makes each and every one of us super human, this time allowing us to communicate with any number of people at the same time. They could take care of a lot of the boring stuff that wastes our precious time and they could do it in a matter of seconds probably. Also, by spending our entire lives building a bot to our own image (or having a bot-friend that hangs out with us, learns from us) our thoughts and ideas would be around long after our natural life span. Not to mention the possibilities of creating bots that act as professionals in various fields that would be able to ensure an unbiased service that would respect a certain continuity for each beneficiary. I'm thinking of teachers, therapists, social workers, lawyers and various sorts of technical specialists (the list goes on, of course). They wouldn't replace the professionals, they'd be their assistants, thus allowing them to help an ever expanding population without the physical restraints caused by stuff like "time" and "distance". Heck, why don't they just go ahead and take care of our government for us? I'd trust a bot over Bush (or our stupid prime minister) - ten fold!

Can chatterbots replace humans?
More of an extension to humans... I guess they'll replace us in some ways, but I expect they'll mostly be ways that we'll want to be replaced. I'm not really scared of the idea of being replaced by bots, we're not that great... perhaps bots are a natural evolutionary path for any intelligent species after a long enough period of time?

What is your favorite bot memory?
Seeing Mr. Prieur use the English language again... after his death.

What was your worst bot moment?
Realizing I'd made a mistake with the hundreds of keywords the poor bot uses to decide what to respond... I had to spend hours of valuable bot-building time to reorganize them all! He's ok now though. :)

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