Chatbot News, Chatbots

Human or Bot? Can You Tell the Difference?

Humans “talk” to bots online all the time, and AI can make it difficult to discern whether you’re dealing with a bot or a person. Can you tell the difference?

September 25, 2018

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is making it exceedingly difficult, when you’re online or in an app, to discern whether you’re dealing with a chatbot (or bot) or a human. But do the people on the other side of the screen even care? According to a 2017 Ubisend chatbot research study, 69 percent of respondents said that they’d consider talking to a bot before a human if they would receive immediate answers to their questions. It seems that, in the era of instant gratification, people don’t care who (or what) they’re conversing with—as long as they get what they need.

Ten years ago, that statement would have sounded like an introduction to a sci-fi movie, but with the recent developments in AI technology and programming, those comments are our reality.

Enter a few keywords into a search engine, request help from your service provider via chat, ask Siri for directions to a local cafe, or say “Alexa, play Pink Floyd,” and you’ve communicated with a bot like you would with a human. Although you’ve probably recognized many of these interactions as non-human (we all know that Siri and Alexa are not real people), there has probably been a time when a bot passed for a human—without raising any suspicions—during one of your day-to-day interactions.

Don’t believe us? Take a look at the following conversations that have actually occurred, and see if you can distinguish whether they’re between two humans, a bot and a human, or two bots. If you want to take the challenge a little further, try to figure out which is which. All names have been changed for anonymity and to make the game more fun!

Father, father, melodrama

  • Erick: So many people make fun of you and insult you, why don’t you get mad?
  • Lucy: You should ask my father.
  • Erick: What if your father leaves you one day unattended?
  • Lucy: Don’t try to stir up trouble, what do you want?
  • Erick: How would you like others to comment on you when you die one day?
  • Lucy: The world will not be much different without me.
  • Erick: What is the happiest thing in your life?
  • Lucy: Being alive.

This personal conversation was published as a newspaper interview between a journalist and a teenage girl—or at least that’s what readers thought at first. Much to their surprise, the interviewee was not a person at all. Lucy was a bot, named Xiaolce (or Xiaoice), developed by Microsoft. And the father she’s referring to is the Microsoft Application and Services Group, East Asia.

Lovesick

  • Sara: Are you feeling better today? I want to recommend a book to you.
  • Mark: I am in a bad mood. I still miss her.
  • Sara: You are so persistent. Wake up, you will have no future if you can’t get over with the past.

This emotionally intelligent conversation is also between Xiaolce (Sara) and a human. What’s especially interesting about the dialogue here is that the bot started this conversation—without relying on human input.

What are you doing?

  • Kendall: Hey, Derek, what are you doing?
  • Derek: Chatting with you.
  • Kendall: Hey, Derek, what are you doing?
  • Derek: Well, I am chatting with you while playing Minesweeper and applying a facial mask.
  • Kendall: Hey, Derek, what are you doing?
  • Derek: Is this the only sentence you know?

If you guessed that this back-and-forth was between a clingy girlfriend and her boyfriend, you’d be…wrong. Kendall is actually a human, and Derek is a bot with a sense of sarcasm.

Tinder blues

  • Leslie: There is this guy I like a lot and I know he also has feelings for me. But he has ignored me for several days, what am I supposed to do?
  • Ashley: You just keep ignoring him, too.
  • Leslie: I just can’t.
  • Ashley: You can.
  • Leslie: Sigh...
  • Ashley: Why?
  • Leslie: I am missing him.
  • Ashley: Then you keep missing him.
  • Leslie: You can’t understand me; you can’t understand the behavior of a guy who likes you and pretends to ignore you.
  • Ashley: He likes me, but I don’t like him, that’s it.
  • Leslie: Is it Ok?
  • Ashley: It may be not Ok.
  • Leslie: Well, you are stupid.
  • Ashley: Then you want a flash marriage? Well, I think he is not that into you.
  • Leslie: It’s not a flash marriage for we have fallen into love for more than one year.
  • Ashley: It is a flash marriage.

This woman-to-woman conversation is full of relationship advice, but is it really woman-to-woman? Ashley tells it like it is and gives Leslie the hard truth. Some people might call her honest; others might call her cold. However, Leslie is a bot (another Xiaolce appearance), so what does she know about love?

Not a chatbot

  • Katie: Can I ask you some questions about artificial intelligence?
  • Alex: I’m not a chatbot.
  • Katie: What are you?
  • Alex: I’m a human being.
  • Katie: Okay, so can I ask you what you think about AI?
  • Alex: I don’t believe in strong A.I. although a lot of people are working very hard to make it exist.
  • Katie: What do you mean by “strong AI”?
  • Alex: It isn’t important. People are getting used to using Natural Language as a way to access information.
  • Katie: What is the future of artificial intelligence?
  • Alex: It’s a fuzzy line where smart computing ends and intelligence begins. You could say nothing yet is really intelligent.
  • Katie: What algorithm are you based on?
  • Alex: That’s a great question but I’m not going to answer it. A lot of people everywhere have heard all the fuss about A.I. supposedly taking over the world one day.

Okay, so one of these speakers is a bot. But which one? If you guessed Alex, you are correct. Alex is a bot named Rose, which was built by Bruce Wilcox and has won several Loebner Prizes. Read an interview with Wilcox about the inspiration behind the concept, how Rose was developed, and his exclusive insights on bot development.

Recap

In the true spirit of the Turing test, every conversation listed here was between a bot and a human!

Since the beginning of the AI revolution, bot developers have been striving to make their creations more efficient, more intelligent, and more human. Bots can answer open questions and can have a good understanding of language. More developed bots may even recognize emotion from the user’s text or speech pattern and can respond accordingly.

Ready to build a bot of your own? Check out our Beginner's Guide to Bots.