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The Third R in AI Chatbots - Rithmatic

Chatbots are pretty good at readin' and 'ritin'. But they are not good at the third "R" -- 'rithmatic. Artificial Intelligence Markup Language (AIML), the basis of a lot of chatbots, is good but not good enough for advanced chats. The language itself, based on XML, can have the facility for "smart substitutions". An example of a smart substitution in the markup pseudo-code goes like this:

<pattern><bot='name'/> IS* <pattern><template>Hello <aiml:get "name"/>

and the chatbot would say Hello Ken. But for a really smart chatbot, that is way too simplistic for anything but conversation.

If you have been following my articles, you know that I am coding a chatbot called Honest John that will sell new cars on behalf of a dealer. Not only will it chat, but it will negotiate. For applications like this, smart substitution is not enough. It has to be able to do math (or maths as my British friends say -- but what do they know, the just invented the language).

A smart bot must be able to substitute for x in the following ways:

"You want the car delivered on Tuesday? That is only <x; x<4;> day(s) away and I need a lead time of 4 days to deliver.
You offered me $34,500 for the vehicle. The offer price exceeds the maximum discount of $<x;x=(price-.06(price))> that I am allowed to offer you on that particular car.
Smart substitution cannot do math. Back in the day when I designed microprocessor hardware, we used to use a silicon chip called an ALU (or an Arithmetic Logic Unit) when we had an application that required a lot of math processing. The microprocessor would pass on the ciphering to the ALU if floating point operations were required. A smart chatbot needs the equivalent of a software ALU function.

An even smarter chatbot will have an AIML processor that will recognize tags with arithmetic expressions and hand them off to its own Arithmetic Logic Unit for processing. It will have a smart parser. This functionality is a required component for negotiation using numbers and money. The concept of a tag that invokes arithmetic will put some real brain muscle into Honest John.

The nice thing about introducing a calculating tag parser, is that once you do the framework for arithmetic expressions of tags (using a custom tag classes), you can create tags that do other things like logic expressions, matching, sorting and any other function that lends itself to be expressed in symbolic language in code. You could even create a tag that invokes an AI engine automagically.

Honest John's intelligence arsenal is really shaping up. He will be a force majeure among smart chatbots. After all, too many chatbots abuse the privilege of being stupid.

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