Cleverbot IRL

Originally released in 1997, Cleverbot is one of the more well-known chat bots designed to be interacted with via text. It learns from its conversations with humans and strives to sound as human as possible in its responses. We want to allow people to have a conversation with Cleverbot, but instead of talking via type, they will have their conversation by talking with another person. A piece of hardware, such as a tablet, will use voice recognition to translate the event attendee’s voice into text, which will then be fed into a conversation with Cleverbot on the tablet. Cleverbot will respond, and a performer will read the response aloud to the attendee. When speaking with Cleverbot, there is a question of “Am I having a real conversation?” that comes up. The more that Cleverbot sounds human, the more blurred the answer to this is. We feel that having a conversation with Cleverbot via human will push people into an uncomfortable “Uncanny Valley” type situation that will make them question the reality of their situation. Is a conversation as a bot as valuable as one with a human even if the same words are exchanged? Who are they talking with? Does having a human “perform” Cleverbot change the experience of the conversation? Why? We hope to bring these questions to the forefront of people’s consciousness, and have them really think about what makes a conversation real.