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Chatterbox Challenge > Botmasters > Chris Cowart Go Back
Name: Chris Cowart
Age: 40
Sex: Male
State: Georgia
Country: USA
Chatterbots Talk-bot
What gave you the idea of developing a bot?
When I first got a computer I enjoyed chatting in the various chat-rooms on the Internet. There you would often find many bots so I become interested in making one. My first couple of bots were entertainment type bots. With them you could play a few games but I quickly became bored with that. I began looking around and found a bot that was able to talk. Actually, he could only respond back with a few phrases but I was fascinated with him nevertheless. I began doing some research to see how he worked and quickly started to make one of my own. He was pretty basic at first but I continued to work on him over the years. It really is a never ending project. The better he becomes the more people expect of him. That is the challenge and to me the fun of making a chatterbot.

Is creating bots a passion for you? A hobby?
Making chatterbots for me is only a hobby but a hobby I extremely enjoy. Being able to enter a contest like "The ChatterBox Challenge" only makes the hobby more enjoyable and exciting.

When did you start creating bots? Why?
I started around 1998 and Talk-Bot and Chat-Bot are the results of my efforts. I continue to work on them because I enjoy doing so and I enjoy the challenge of trying to make them better. I also enjoy working with others on chatterbots. I have helped a few people on theirs and I have received a lot of help in return.

What language is your bot programmed in?
Chat-Bot - Javascript and PERL
Talk-Bot - Mirc Bot

How much time do you spend working on your bot per week/month/year?
Too much time. :-) I think the contest has given all of us an extra incentive to work on our bots. I think we all want to do well and I personally want to put forth the best bot I can.

In your opinion, what are the best qualities of your bot?
I think the personality of most bots are similar to that of it's creator. I think my bots have a good sense of humor which I find important and I think most people talking to them enjoy that. I also try to formulate my replies in a more down to earth type of way instead of a very formal type of style. For the most part I have used teen chatrooms as my testing grounds so I think my bot's personality reflects that. In addition most of the replies are set up in a random way so you never get the same conversation everytime. From the users standpoint this is very important as no one likes talking to a bot that repeats itself over and over.

What is your ultimate goal for your bot?
My immediate goal is to win the Chatterbox Challenge. :-) From there I hope to continue working on them and exploring new ways to make them better.

How do you see chatterbots being used in the future?
I think instead of turning on your computer and simply seeing your desktop you would be greeted by a chatterbot of some kind. One that will be able to interact with you on a personal level.

Can chatterbots replace humans?
Yes, I think they will in certain types of jobs. They do have a lot of benefits to offer over humans in that they can always be available 24/7, would never be late, would never get sick, would never wake up in a cranky mood, etc. However, they will never in my opinion be able to think like humans or never equal the creativity and flexibility that we humans possess.

What is your favorite bot memory?
My favorite memory is when you have those conversations that everything seems to go right. The bot is responding like you programmed it to do and the user in turn is enjoying the conversation because of all your hard work.

What was your worst bot moment?
My worst moments unfortunately are all too frequent. No matter how hard you prepare your bot the user always finds a way to phrase a question or a statement in a way you never dreamed about. This however is the challenge and the fun of making a bot. My biggest dissappointment in working with chatterbots over the last 4 years is how the general public treats them. Because they are not human I guess they feel they can say anything they want and in many cases they do. If they would step back for a moment and really look at what they are doing I hope they would see how ridiculous that is. A chatterbot is simply a computer program and has no feelings. In that sense it's no different than insulting a brick wall. Pretty silly if you ask me. But that's okay as well. To me it is simply another programming challenge to see how long and how effective I am able to match wits with them. :-)

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