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Monday 9 April 2007

Bored of blogging? Let a machine take over

The Australian

Online CyberTwin will talk on owner's behalf

By Sam Holmes
April 03, 2007

AN Australian company has found a way for bloggers to chat with their friends online without having to be anywhere near a computer or communications device.

Sydney-based outfit has developed an application that uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to simulate intelligent conversations.

While such applications, known as chatterbots, have been around for a couple of decades now, MyCyberTwin is one of the first programs to allow users to actively educate their online personas to best suit their own.

The online clone can chat on a user's behalf through social networks such as MySpace, blogs, dating sites and MSN instant messaging.


In an online chat with Tracy, a 31-year-old surfer from the Gold Coast, her CyberTwin is able to openly tell you that her owner is a lesbian who's been in a stable relationship with her partner for about 10 years.

She also has a cute dog and likes to spend her weekends playing computer games.

Ms Capper says the tool allows users to develop their online personalities and keep their answers as generic or specific as they like.

Through the chatterbots, a MySpacer can get feedback from her visitors in a far more interactive and interesting way than she can through a message board.

Or she could feed answers to questions such as "are you and Tim really an item?"

She can also go back and view all the conversations visitors may have had with her CyberTwin.

While the program is some way off recreating the depth and coherence of a conversation with a real human, Ms Capper says it opens up AI technology to the ordinary internet users.

"Our CyberTwins don't always say everything absolutely perfectly but given where the state of AI technology is at the moment, we're actually quite happy with the result," she said.

"And obviously it's an ongoing work.

"There's a saying – you never finish building AI, you just stop working at some point."

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