What’s so interesting about talking robots? From The Tin Man and C3P0 to HAL 9000, humans have long fantasized about bringing their lovable idiosyncrasies to metal and silicon. Now, as intelligent assistants and chatbots become real presences in our lives, owing to impressive technological developments in machine learning and natural language understanding, a look at that history shows personality, not technology, is actually just as necessary for success. The chatbot story begins in the early sixties In 1966, a German-American professor at MIT, Joseph Weizenbaum, unveiled ELIZA. ELIZA was a virtual psychotherapist, running on an IBM 7090, one of the first…

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