Can machines talk? Comparison of Eliza with modern dialogue systems

Huma Shah, Kevin Warwick, Jordi Vallverdú, Defeng Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. To find if current dialogue systems use the same, psychotherapist questioning technique as Joseph Weizenbaum's 1960 natural language understanding programme, Eliza, the authors carried out an original experiment comparing five successful artificial dialogue systems, Cleverbot, Elbot, Eugene Goostman, JFred and Ultra Hal with an online version of Eliza. More than one hundred male and female participants with 1st or non-1st English language, age range 13-64, interacted with the systems over the Internet scoring each for conversation ability. Developers of the modern conversation systems show they deploy a variety of techniques to initiate and maintain dialogue learning from interactions with humans over the Internet. Statistical significance shows these dialogue systems are an improvement on their predecessor. Embedded on the web affording round-the-clock interaction the nature of artificial dialogue systems is evolving as these systems learn from the way humans converse. The uses of modern Elizas are proven successful as virtual assistants in e-commerce; their conversational basis is already extending into education. What we can say is modern artificial dialogue systems do talk. They are able to participate in conversation in a way their predecessor Eliza could not: they are able to share personal opinions, relay experience of family dramas, be relevant, but also be vague, and mislead just as humans do.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-295
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • Conversation ability
  • Dialogue systems
  • Eliza
  • Machine
  • Talk
  • Turing test


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