Author

Maksim Kotov

Date of Award

2017

First Advisor

Aaron Williams

Second Advisor

Jackson Liscombe

Third Advisor

Amanda Landi

Abstract

Recent years have seen a wide-spread adoption of conversational interfaces. Conversational agents, commonly referred to as chatbots, are programs that can exhibit human-like conversational behavior. They are taking over messaging platforms, redefining marketing and replacing human workers in customer support centers. However, there exists healthy skepticism on whether chatbots can deliver on what has been promised. This thesis aims to cover the main points of mismatch between the actual technology and its public perception by providing historical context for understanding modern chatbots. We consult Turing's ground-laying work to figure out why people were interested in talking to computers in the first place, highlight the role of dialogue systems in the general field of AI research and follow conversational agents on their journey for recognition, funding and purpose. We apply our findings by analyzing potential applications for chatbots within the Simon’s Rock campus and community.

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