Artificial Intelligence Meetups Tampa Bay

Tomorrow: Build Eliza, the original chatbot from 1964!

The Tampa Bay Artificial Intelligence Meetup is gathering tomorrow at Computer Coach, where we’ll build Eliza, the original chatbot!

(You can still register for the meetup, but space is limited!)

Eliza was created by computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab over a two-year period from 1964 to 1966. It simulated a psychotherapist that reflects what the patient says back at them or gets the patient to talk about what they just said.

Here’s a quick video clip about Eliza:

Although Eliza was written for the IBM 7094, a room-sized computer whose operator console is pictured below…

IBM 7094 operator console. Photo by Arnold Reinhold.
Tap to view at full size.

…it later became a popular program on home computers in the 1980s under the name “Eliza” or “Doctor”:

The computers I grew up on all had some version of Eliza.

Here‘s Eliza running on the TRS-80 Computer — the “CoCo” — an underappreciated computer from the 1980s:

There’s even a scene from the TV series Young Sheldon, which takes place in the late 1980s/early 1990s, where the titular character has a chat with Eliza:

Eliza’s responses in the scene are pretty accurate, except for the synthesized voice.

If you’re really curious, you can try out ELIZA online! Be warned; it won’t be as impressive as ChatGPT.

There’s no way we could code ChatGPT in a single meetup, but we will build a complete working version of ELIZA tomorrow at the Tampa Bay Artificial Intelligence Meetup! It’s also a great way to sharpen your skills in Python (which is very popular in AI circles) at the same time.

In the meetup, I’ll provide a “starter” project, and you’d code along with me until you had a working Eliza version that you could tweak into your own chatbot.

You wouldn’t need the latest and greatest computer to do it, either! A laptop from 2010 (and remember, that’s 13 years ago now!) or later would be all you’d need.

There are still a few spaces available for tomorrow”s meetup. If you’re interested, register now!