Chatbots are relatively complex computer programs designed to simulate a natural conversation between humans; often treating conversations as if they were a tennis match, with a simple talk-reply functionality. Over the last decade tremendous advances were made for this area of computer software, but none as big or significant as the ones achieved by Google. The chatbot being developed by the internet giant is not as simple as the ones you could find with a simple search; instead of responding to specific questions or sentences with pre-programmed responses Google’s chatbot makes use of numerous incredibly complex neural networks. These type of networks aim to operate just like the human brain, by creating synapses between data (mimicking neurons). But an intricate neural network is not everything needed for a chatbot to maintain a natural conversation with a human being, as the software still finds it difficult to properly articulate responses. Google fixed this with a rather unusual solution, feed its own chatbot with movie dialogues.
Neural networks have already been employed by other major companies such as Microsoft and by Facebook, to identify specific objects inside images, recognize speech, and even create artistic pictures. Google has also already applied these networks for other purposes, but its latest innovation with neural networks has been to create an incredibly intelligent chatbot using them. Researchers at Google, Oriol Vinyals and Quoc Le, deduced the company’s chatbot needed something else to improve its overall formulation of responses; in order to achieve this, the research team supplied the chatbot with an extensive amount of movie dialogues. The inclusion of movie dialogues into the Google-owned chatbot’s “mind” greatly improved the quality of formulated responses.
After adding the movie dialogue database, Google’s chatbot not only improved its responses, but also began giving significantly more dramatic and incredibly philosophical ones. During one of the latest test runs, Google’s chatbot answered several rather unusual questions, to which it gave some unexpected answers like, “to serve the greater good” when being asked “what is the purpose of life?” Currently, Google’s chatbot is only a mere proof of concept without any extravagant applications other than doing simple tech support tasks and delivering news in a more personal way; fortunately, the team behind the software plans on further developing their chatbot, so it could serve the greater good.