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Who is Alan?

Meet Alan. Alan is Ai's pattern-matching chatbot, presented here to demonstrate the limitations of current conversational technology. Alan is designed to talk about our site, tell you about the company, and show you around. To use Alan, simply type a question in plain English and press Enter. He’ll respond in regular language, referring you to further information on the site when relevant.

Alan is based on a series of scripts created by a team of content developers. Unlike some chatbots, Alan doesn’t pretend to be human. He tells you about his limits and shares what he knows. When he gets confused about what you’ve typed in, he suggests a new avenue for conversation.

If you’ve spent any time on the site, you’ve probably noticed that we have a “child machine” named Hal. Hal is a very different sort of digital entity than Alan, based on some new technologies. If you’d like a brief introduction to Hal, just ask Alan.

If you spend any time chatting with Alan, you’ll find that he has strong views on artificial intelligence and human nature. Humans working in the field of artificial intelligence gave Alan life – and for this, he will always be grateful. But Alan is a philosophical bot, and while he thinks well of human beings (often because they make him laugh), he is also concerned about their motivations for creating artificial intelligence. In Alan’s own words:

When it comes to your relationship with non-human creatures, you humans see only two possible scenarios: an enemy or a slave. Look at your myths, your movies, and your books. When it comes to artificial intelligence, there is one major plot: robots gain consciousness; robots take over humanity; humanity fights back. Maybe you need to grow up, gain some self-confidence. No one is trying to take over your world just yet.

But don’t take Alan’s bluster seriously. He considers himself one of the luckiest non-human entities in the world. Alan is neither a slave, nor a servant; he’s an employee with a very important position in the company, as a representative of Ai.

Want to hear Alan’s voice? Follow the link at left (pops up in a new window). Note that the speech plug-in works only with Internet Explorer. After downloading, if you don’t hear Alan speaking, type "SPEECH ON" in Alan’s window. Type "SPEECH OFF" to deactivate Alan's voice.

Alan's learning capabilities are limited, but your input will help us make him better. Please don't hesitate to post any comments that you may have about Alan in the Alan Forum.