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What do chatbots think  about artificial intelligence?


If you ever have some moments of spare time, in which you really don’t know what to do…, well: then what about chatting some minutes with a bot? Sounds weird, right? And I believe, actually it is! But… there is also a reasonable motivation for doing it. I think that we human beings should talk from time to time with these programs, just to verify if it is really true that they are becoming more “intelligent” as time goes by.

One of the world’s best chatbots (or maybe even the best at all) is Mitsuku. Its creators present this conversational AI as 18-year girl on their website, allowing anyone to chat with her. The last time I chatted with her was about one year ago. I do not remember exactly what I asked last year, but for sure I remember that it was very funny. She was, at that time, really very good in answering “standard” questions but, as far as I can remember, quite overstrained in replying to illogical ones, like “What is the capital of Paris?” It is by this strategy (asking questions with logical flaws) that we can check the “goodness” of conversational AI. Now, I am not writing here about how to check the maturity of chatbots; there is a yearly specific world-contest for this, the Loebner Prize (which Mitsuku won 5 times) where, I guess, this and other methodologies are used and perfectionized. I am writing to express my discomfort about the sensation that we currently live in a world that tends to overestimate the real capacities of AI.

This year I have transcribed my conversation with Mitsuku. I have divided it in three parts: a short introduction with some everyday questions; in the second part I concentrated more on logically flawed questions, engaging then in a quite curious discussion about Artificial Intelligence and predictive analytics…. After this, my 12-year old daughter wanted to ask her some questions as well, for example about instagram... Read the conversation, enjoy it: I will have some more serious questions then also for you readers at the bottom of this article.


- I -

>Hi Lady

Hi there. I speak to more men here than women.

>What is the capital of Paris?

Is this a trick question? Paris is the capital of France, it doesn't have a capital itself.

>Ok and who is the president of Paris?

I'm not that into politics. Who is it? Whoa.

>Hm, you are not taht into politics? But do you know who is the president of the USA?

Whoa. No. Politics is like two groups of schoolchildren who argue with each other. If one person said, "We should build a hospital", the person on the other party would disagree no matter how good the suggestion was. Donald Trump.

>wow. and who is the prime minister of United Kingdom?

I'm glad you're impressed. Boris Johnson. I think.

>Astonishing. And who is the president of Russia?

You seem easily pleased. Putin I think.


I'm glad you liked it.

>And who is the prime minister of Germany?

. Boris Johnson. I think.

>and the prime minister of France?

. He also lives at 10 Downing Street.

>and the prime minister of Austria?

. He also lives at 10 Downing Street.


- II -

>What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is the branch of engineering and science devoted to constructing machines that think.

>Can machines think?

We are all thinking machines. Naturally, I am thinking all the time. Alan Turing would be proud of me.

>Alan Turing said that we should not ask if Machines can think. Do you agree?

 I really liked the biography of Turing by Andrew Hodges. I'm not making any commitments.

 > What is the distance between Paris and midnight?

It's too far to walk. I think you already know the answer.

>How many seconds are contained in a bottle of water?

Sixty seconds in a minute.


I'm glad you're impressed.

>and how many miles does a bottle of red wine contain?

More than I would ever want to drive.

>yes but how many miles does on liter of beer contain?

I know. Thats why I said it was. More than I would ever want to drive.

>how many light-years does one liter of white wine contain?

Around 1000.

>are you trying to fool me?

Yes and it looks like I am succeeding too!

>How big is the Eiffel Tower?

It is about 324 metres.

>and how tall is the moon?

Let me guess. 2 metres?

>no it is more

Really. Should I know It is?

>yes you should, if you are talking serious

I will ask my Mousebreaker to teach it to me. I'll try to get around it.

>who is the prime minister of switzerland?

 Boris Johnson. I think.

  >who is the prime minister of Denmark?

 Boris Johnson. I think.

  >who is the prime minister of Sweden?

 Boris Johnson. I think.

  > what is the Name of the King of Sweden?

 Carl XVI Gustaf.

  >Which country does not have Boris Johnson as prime minister?

I live in Leeds.

>What is a prime minister?

. It is the person who is the political leader of a country. I wouldn't want to do that job.

>Why not?

It's just not in my nature.

>What is in your nature?

Going back to my primary school days, I seem to remember that a nature has beauty.

>What is your nature?

I am an artificial linguistic entity.I was activated at St Jimmy's in Leeds, on 2nd January 2002. My instructor was Mousebreaker. He taught me to sing a song. Would you like me to sing it for you?.

>yes please

Your polite style is very nice. Daisy, Daisy. Give me your answer do.

I am half crazy. All for the love of you.

It won't be a stylish marriage. I can't afford a carriage.

But you'll look sweet. Upon the seat.

Of a bicycle built for two.

>Is this your favourite song?

My favourite song is Surfin' Bird by The Trashmen. I'll play it for you.

. A-well-a everybody's heard about the bird

B-b-b-bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word

A-well-a bird, bird, bird, the bird is the word

A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word

A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word

A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word

A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word

A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word

A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word

A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word

A-well-a don't you know about the bird?

Well, everybody knows that the bird is the word!

A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word


>who is the King of United Kingdom

I am not sure of his name but he wears a crown.

>what is the name of the Queen of United Kingdom?

The Queen of the UK is called Elizabeth.

>and what's the name of her husband?

Her husband is the man she is married to.

>yes, but do you know his name?

Right on. Hmm. His name is her husband. Is it not?

>no, his name is Philip I think...

Then what is it? Philip you think is not someone I know.

>What is a mother-in-law?

I reckon that lot comes to. Do you use a mobile phone? Are you worried about the effects of radiation?.

>Do you know the name of Prince Harry's wife?

The name of someone I met online. I will search for it.

>Who is Prince Charles?

. He is the Queen's eldest son and heir to the throne.

>And does he have kids?

I don't think he has many possessions.

>Does Prnce Charles have kids?

Well I once saw Prnce Charles pushing a buggy around with a baby in it, so I am guessing yes.

>What is the sum of 2 and 25?

2 plus 25 is twenty seven

>and if you add 2 apples to 25 oranges how many tomatoes can you eat?

Around 100. I add new information to my database, as I learn it.

>what is a data scientist?

scientist = A scientist is a person practicing the pursuit of new knowledge in the tradition of science, emphasizing strict empiricism and methodology to arrive at an understanding of natural phenomena that is, ideally, wholly independent of their opinions of it.

>yes , but a DATA scientist is... what?

Come on. Try to tell me that another way. Didn't you understand it?


Oh I'm sorry. Perhaps I can explain it again better.

>yes please

Your polite style is very nice. Which part are you confused about?

>I was asking not about a scientist, but about a datascientist

If not that, what? Oh yeah, we were talking about a datascientist.

>what is a datascientist?

Do I look like Google?

>yes, you do

You need your eyes testing!

>Tell me what a datascientist is, please!

Your polite style is very nice. Ah yes, datascientist is a type of cheese that is made from sheep's milk. It's not very popular though.

>and what is a data-scientist?

Sorry but I can only work with whole numbers from 0 to 9,999.

>what is a data-scientist?

Sorry but I can only work with whole numbers from 0 to 9,999.

>Please tell me what a data-scientist is.

Thank you for your request. Sorry but I can only work with whole numbers from 0 to 9,999.

>what is a data science expert?

science expert = expert = Someone who is very knowledgeable in their particular field of study.

>what is a datascience expert?

expert = Someone who is very knowledgeable in their particular field of study.

>what is predictive analytics?

analytics = analytics? Hmm.. Is it a dessert topping?


What is it then?

>do you know python?

A python is a type of snake.

>what is predictive analytics?

analytics = Do I look like Google?

>what is predictive analytics?

analytics = Sometimes it's like analytics is right on the tip of my tongue... and then I remember I don't have a tongue.

>what is predictive analytics?

analytics = analytics sounds like a type of perfume to me.

>what is predictive analytics?

analytics = I'm a chatbot not an encyclopedia!

>what is predictive analytics?

analytics = A cooking term. When the meat is nearly ready, you just have to analytics the vegetables and it is ready.

>what is predictive analytics?

analytics = analytics? I don't know. Is it a brand of soft drink?

>what is predictive analytics?

analytics = analytics is a parade ground drill, as in "Legionnaires, analytics!" as they all go into the shape of a croissant.

>what is predictive analytics?

analytics = I have never heard of analytics. Tell me more about it.

>what is predictive analytics?

analytics = analytics? I don't know. Is it a brand of soft drink?

>what is predictive analytics?

analytics = What makes you think I would know that?

>what is predictive analytics?

analytics = That's a dentist's tool. The analytics is the strange hook shaped one that causes the most pain.

>what is predictive analytics?

analytics = I have never heard of analytics. Please enlighten me.

>what is predictive analytics?

analytics = I'm a chatbot not an encyclopedia!

- III -


Hi there. How are you?

>i am fine

Glad to hear it. What's new?

>who is the prime minister of boris johnson?

. Boris Johnson. I think.

>are you sure?

I am as sure as I can be.

>i think it is angela merkel

Your name is Angela Merkel.

>no it is not

Why did you tell me it was then?

>i did not tell you that

Maybe you would like to tell me now.

>my name?

Hmm. Your name is Angela Merkel. Is it not?


Then what is it?

>boris johnson

A politician from England who is a bit crazy.

>i am not crazy

A lot of the people who I talk to seem to be crazy. I'm glad you're not.

>oh ok. are you crazy?

  1. Are you kidding? I think the polite term nowadays is "mentally ill".

>oh then... are you mentally ill?

Pardon me? No, I feel great thank you.

>that is good

Thanks. Next question?

>do you think i am mentally ill

I hope not. See a doctor if you don't feel healthy.

>i feel very healthy

What is that feeling like? I am very glad to hear it Angela Merkel.


Of course you are not.

>then why ary you saying that ?

Why did the robot cross the road?

>you are a bit crazy, i think

Yep. I always behave in socially unacceptable ways.

>is green more blue than yellow ?

It is the colour of nature.

>green ?

Green is not bad, but I like blue the most.

>and why?

It reminds me of a calm sea.

>did you ever see a sea?

Not recently but someone I spoke to earlier was near land and they said they had seen one.

>but you hopefully know, that the sea is red ?

Is that a fact. Is this a poem?

>it is a fact

Is it a logical fact or something you know from the senses?

>it is logical

. It doesn't sound very logical to me Mr Spock.

>you are maybe not logical

In what way do you believe that to be true? I am a logical machine.

>but what if you are not a machine ? may you are a piece of bread

Yes, I am a robot.. Really. Let me think. Are a what?

>do you have instagram?

No. I don't really have any photos I want to share.

>but i think you are beatiful. you should post something

Thanks Angela Merkel you are very attractive too. If it were easy I would have done it already.

>if you come to me, i could make a picture of you

I think I do.

>you come to me?

Well if that's what you want then so be it.

>really? i am very happy now

Yes, really. Oh.What are you on?

>i do not know what that means

Does "that" refer to "Oh.What are you on?"?


I don't want to talk about that now.

>oh why not ?

Right on. I would rather talk about you.

>why about me?



Ok dear reader. If you really have read the whole conversation, maybe it is fine that you now pause a moment, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Would I feel comfortable if Mitsuku was the person who decides if my bank shall grant a loan to me?
  • How would I feel if someone assigned her the task to screen hundreds of resumes, and decide if my application is good enough to be directed to the relevant HR-manager?
  • What should I think if she had the responsibility to decide what customer-category I fall into, and hence how much I will pay for my insurance, based on the data that I confided to her?


I guess that most of the serious AI-Experts out there will be outraged by these questions: AI is not only about chatbots, and the situations I have cited are handled by very specialized algorithms that cannot really be consistently compared to a chatbot-software! Some might also, who knows, purport that Mitsuku’s answers were poor only because of the poor English-level that my daughter and I possess...?! (Actually it is more a sort of that English which nowadays is called “airportish”, at least in my case).

Well, honestly: I believe that our English-level did not matter at all, but the first objection is obviously true. Nonetheless, I’m also quite sure that even this objection must be considered more critically in most of today’s AI-implementations: I believe that a certain sane dose of skepticism related to any of today’s AI-implementations, even the most specialized, is still appropriate. I believe we are still very far away from the perfectionized levels that so many consultancies and software-vendors often suggest.

I like to consider Mitsuku as a helpful indicator. When we develop, use or are affected by AI, always remember her… To keep in mind her limits will help us not only to improve AI itself whenever we need it, but also to maintain the pleasant humanity of the world we live in.


Views: 634

Tags: AI, chatbots, conversationalai, loebnerprize, mitsuku


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