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Humanist Archives: March 3, 2022, 8:37 a.m. Humanist 35.566 - consider ELIZA: what do we have that Weizenbaum didn't?

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 566.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2022-03-03 08:25:07+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: consider ELIZA

Just to open up a discussion of where we're at technologically speaking,
consider Weizenbaum's ELIZA, written to demonstrate the triviality of
engaging people in conversation with machines. Its wild success, which
he thought showed disturbing delusional thinking, did esrablish
something important, I think: the appeal of therapeutic conversation
with a machine.

We're still at it, of course. My question is the simple one I've already 
asked. It requires a considerably greater breadth of knowledge than I 
have. So, I ask again (with apologies): what do we have to hand that
he didn't? Can we say simply 'better hardware' and be done with that
side of it, or are there advances in hardware beyond speed and mnemonic
capacity that need to be mentioned? If we were talking to him now what
would we have to explain?

Many thanks for answers and suggestions.

Willard McCarty,
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

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