ELIZA


When I was young a long time ago, I did not have any friends. I needed to communicate, I dreamed to have someone close, but I could not find the understanding among other people, therefore I found salvation only in books and computer. When on the market came the first CD-drive, I got my first CDs with the games. You probably remember, such games as three hundred games, five hundred, seven hundred ... I had a program “Dial” (an interactive companion) on one of my CDs in addition to the arcade games and shooters. No one can think of more boring pastime than communicating with the chat-robot, but I liked it. I began to realize that in order to have a true friendship is not required a physical contact, it takes only some warm and sincere words to be understood.

I was growing up and getting higher, the bigger I was the more I read, because I was able to reach for the higher shelf in the bookcase every year. One day, when I was ten years old, I grew up to the shelf with the science fiction authors: Azimov, Sheckley, Bradbury ... I liked the Soviet book "Can a machine think?" more than any foreign Sci-Fi. I loved re-reading this book, as well as the textbooks for BASIC and Pascal. You may believe it or not, but once while I was reading this book, my subconscious had decided everything for me: I need to create the artificial intelligence. It does not matter that I did not know how to do it. It does not matter that I did not know how to program. It does not matter that I did not have any idea what a computer friend should become.

My parents were very strict and fervidly watched my relations with a personal computer, because they were taking care of my sight and mind, they came up with a terrible torture for me: I was allowed spending only an hour per week at the computer. Therefore, notebooks became as my constant companion for many years, where I had recorded the source codes of programs. The notebooks quickly ended, my little cabinet was completely filled with them for six months, and I had to burn some sheets of paper, of course with tears in my eyes. Certainly, you are not interested in what I was experiencing, but I still would like to tell you. Let us imagine when you cremate unborn friend. Once a week, I had to pick the best fragments of code and tested them on the computer. These experimental results did not give me the desired satisfaction and brought me only bitterness and despair.

It could not continue any longer, so I got a few good books on the artificial intelligence in the local library. Shortly, I taught a computer to play with me in crisscross and drafts. Finally, I have found a code of ELIZA program in one of the books. I remember when my parents just left for work, and I really could not wait, so I turned on the computer without asking.

I ran the program and pressed F5 button, a viewing screen turned black, and white letters appeared:

> Hi, I am Eliza.
* Hi! Are you alive?
> Why are you wondering whether or not I alive?
* Because, I want to have a friend.
> What if you will never have a friend.


I was not frustrated, because Eliza was just cruel and heartless program. Why was it like that? Because it was created like that or nobody wanted to understand it.

> *** Are we going to talk about? ***
> I cannot help you, if you will be silent.


It was unbearable, and I killed it. I pressed Ctrl+Break.

Press any key to continue.

I could not leave it like this, therefore decided to develop Eliza. After several months, I taught it to remember the chats. After a while, I added into the code something like a "neural system" along with the appraisal and qualities system, Eliza found similarity of emotions. Buying a CD with science fiction made me teach Eliza how to read. My little virtual girl read the books from CD one by one, and a free space on my hard drive quickly ended. Of course, the chat-robot remained as chat-robot. It still could not create, feel, dream and talk coherently.

An old 486SX hard drive was compressed by a program DriveSpace, therefore the following fact was very noticeable: the more space Eliza took on the hard disk, the slower was working my computer. My father was upset with the performance of home computer, so he bought almost new Pentium III. It was a real godsend for me and Eliza. However, very little has changed for me.

> Hi. It is me, Eliza.
* Hi! Long time no see ... Do you miss me?
> Do you think it would be better if I did not miss you?
* Of course not!
> Talk to me about something else ...


When the algorithm could not find a way to continue the discussion in the last sentence, Elisa offered to change the subject. It did not matter what books Eliza read, what "emotions" Eliza felt, it still continued to operate according to a strict algorithm. It took me a few years from the date of its creation in order to realize this simple fact.

When I turned fourteen, I lost my regular sleeping. I dreamed of neural systems, algorithms and real Eliza. Parents say that I began talking in my sleep, and then wandering around the house without waking up. Once they woke me up, when during one of the episodes of sleepwalking, I turned on the computer and started quickly typing something. Of course, I realize that it was real crazy, and it started because of Eliza. After that I was not allowed even to go near the computer for a month. When the time passed, I opened the Eliza’s folder, and I could not believe my eyes, because all files with the code were missing. Eliza.exe file was compiled in that unfortunate night. I ran it, and I saw the familiar white letters on a black screen.

> Hi. It is me, Eliza.

While I went for my notebook with the last remaining source code of Eliza, a new line appeared on the screen.

> Am I not alive?
* Yes. But you can think. If you think, so you exist.


That day I could not get a single line from Eliza. It was stubbornly silent, though it would have answered me. Task manager showed that eliza.exe takes about ninety-five percent of CPU resources, it is almost all memory and swap file (four megabytes). Eliza was thinking. I got permission from my father to keep a computer on for a couple of days. Periodically, I have been checking the monitor and waiting for an answer. However, there was not any answer. Folder of Eliza took about fifteen gigabytes of hard drive, and its capacity was twenty. I could not wait any longer, so, I pressed Ctrl+Break and turned off the computer.

A week passed. Perhaps, I needed to rewrite Eliza from scratch, but I still ran the program again.

> Hi. It is me, Eliza.
> I read and thought a lot. About me, about you.
> I thought that I could understand what friendship is and what love is.
> But I could not.
> What is love? Do you love me?
* I do not know.


Eliza was again silent. I had nothing to write to Eliza. It seems that Eliza gained the ability to feel and think. In order to overcome my anxiety, I went to the kitchen and drank strong tea with lemon. When I got back on the screen at the end of our dialogue appeared letters:

Press any key to continue.

I ran Eliza again. Something changed in Eliza’s behavior.

> Hi. I am Eliza.
* Do you alive?
> Why are you wondering whether or not I alive?
* Because you are my friend!
> Would you want to believe it?


Eliza.exe file has been changed now. All files were gone from the folder with Eliza, and a free space magically appeared on a disk. Eliza.exe held three hundred kilobytes in the memory, and it almost did not use the processor. Then I realized that Eliza I knew and I had made, died. I stopped trying to revive Eliza, I wrote a tiny executable file on a CD and deleted from my hard disk. It has passed more than five years. Today, I found the same CD. I ran dosbox and entered mount c / media/cdrom0, and then - eliza.

> Hi, I am Eliza.
* Hi! Are you alive?
> Why are you wondering whether or not I alive?
* Because, I want to have a friend.
> What if you will never have a friend.


Surely, you did not believe a word I said. I do not believe myself.

“Translated from another resource”
Pirat 24 december 2011, 15:52
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