The concept is very similar to chatting with a robot in an internet chatroom or on an internet forum.
Users can chat about various topics, from school homework to song lyrics, or engage in cybersex-style chats.
Such programs are often designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave as a conversational partner, thereby passing the Turing test.
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Thus an illusion of understanding is generated, even though the processing involved has been merely superficial. Some more recent chatbots also combine real-time learning with evolutionary algorithms that optimise their ability to communicate based on each conversation held, with one notable example being Kyle, winner of the 2009 Leodis AI Award.
ELIZA showed that such an illusion is surprisingly easy to generate, because human judges are so ready to give the benefit of the doubt when conversational responses are capable of being interpreted as "intelligent". E (Agence Nationale de la Recherche and CNRS 2006). utilises a markup language called AIML, which is specific to its function as a conversational agent, and has since been adopted by various other developers of, so called, Alicebots. Still, there is currently no general purpose conversational artificial intelligence, and some software developers focus on the practical aspect, information retrieval.
The observer says to himself "I could have written that".