spaceship no future

hello there! i’m the talking parrot!

my first encounter with ELIZA was in grade school. i had two giant books of basic programs which i dutifully typed into my dad’s APPLE ][+ (yes!) for fun. my friend chris was usually there. often our debugging routine was to just delete any lines that gave syntax errors when we tried to run the program, and then run it again until it stopped complaining. you can’t learn skills like that in a classroom. one of those programs was ELIZA. she repeated part of whatever you typed at her in the form of a question, so you could have a conversation with your computer. big deal. but she imitated natural language, which computers didn’t do like they do so effortlessly today on star trek. many secretaries were suckered into thinking she was a real person back in 1966, and poured their hearts out to her, according to douglas hofstadter, legendary scientific american columnist and my personal hero. we never got the chance to laugh at them. so this made my day. he hooked up ELIZA to his instant messenger. it’s not just good for laughs at the A/S/L instant messenger crowd… it kind of makes you wonder. i spend *hours* using AIM. what if all my friends are robots? well, OK. if i can train them to kill.