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Question About Chatbot Project
 
 

Hi All I am new here and just wanted some feedback on a project I am going to try and work on.
I am going to try to design a Chatbot.  I maybe partnering with an overseas university dealing with probabilistic reasoning / decision-making under uncertainty / machine learning.

I want my Chatbot to be able to speak using Voice Response and voice recognition software, or if the user wants can type in his questions. 

I know there are labs working on this all over the world but my question is would the technology be there for a Standalone Bot, Web Bot that could use Voice Response and voice recognition software to have a someone normal conversation.

I want create my Bot from scratch as I know some PHP and Web but will research everything else.  I am getting some funding so have spoke to a person as well that has created and helped on a few Commercial Chatbots so will get some help from them as well.

I am planning on creating a Virtual Head in Maya to use with an Educational Idea I have, I also want a web Assistant, and I also want to use this Chatbot on an existing inventory System as a Standalone ChatBot.  Would 2 years be a realistic timeframe for something like this?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,


Robert Glasco

 

 
  [ # 1 ]

Welcome Robert,

The first suggestion that I would make is to look into which parsing method you wish to use for your AI. There are many open source projects out there that you could easily build your platform framework around. From what you are saying, you plan on using the end application both as an interface to an enterprise system and as a standalone chatbot application? This sounds like a very ambitious project and depending on your development resources would dictate a completion time frame.

My advise to you is do the most research you can ahead of your project and start small with a working model or prototype of your design and then add modules to accommodate the interfacing to other systems that would resolve data structure and cross platform compatibility issues.

Hope this starts you in the right direction.

 

 
  [ # 2 ]
Robert Glasco - Feb 11, 2012:

Hi All I am new here and just wanted some feedback on a project I am going to try and work on.
I am going to try to design a Chatbot.  I maybe partnering with an overseas university dealing with probabilistic reasoning / decision-making under uncertainty / machine learning.

I want my Chatbot to be able to speak using Voice Response and voice recognition software, or if the user wants can type in his questions. 

I know there are labs working on this all over the world but my question is would the technology be there for a Standalone Bot, Web Bot that could use Voice Response and voice recognition software to have a someone normal conversation.

I want create my Bot from scratch as I know some PHP and Web but will research everything else.  I am getting some funding so have spoke to a person as well that has created and helped on a few Commercial Chatbots so will get some help from them as well.

I am planning on creating a Virtual Head in Maya to use with an Educational Idea I have, I also want a web Assistant, and I also want to use this Chatbot on an existing inventory System as a Standalone ChatBot.  Would 2 years be a realistic timeframe for something like this?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,


Robert Glasco

There is no single platform that will get you everything you need. The technology is there, but it will require a lot of integration on your part if you are going to start from scratch. Your time frame depends on how much time you are willing to dedicate to the project and if you are willing to buy some of the components to speed up your development.

 

 

 
  [ # 3 ]

Hi, Robert, and welcome to chatbots.org! smile

That sounds like a very ambitious project, indeed! You’re likely to be busy at it for a while. And given that you want to give your chatbot voice recognition abilities, both through a stand-alone app and with a web interface, you’re going to have some pretty tough hoops to jump through, as well. At this current point in time, the web interface is pretty limited, to either Flash (which won’t work on an iPhone) or Google Chrome. This will likely change in the near- to mid-future, and may have already done so. Tt’s not always easy to keep abreast of things, so I don’t know for sure. As to the stand-alone app, there are several options, depending on the programming language used to create the GUI (I assume GUI, due to your wish to use an animated avatar). I don’t have any specific suggestions for you, other than to let us know if you have a question that we may be able to answer. smile

 

 
  [ # 4 ]

@Robert: welcome to Chatbots.org!

Sound like an ambitious project! Maya is one of the best tools indeed for character animation, but it used by professional avatar developers (such as http://www.cantoche.com) because create an avatar is something totally different than making it alive.

Speech technology is also growing very fast. Much is being said in different threads.

You’ll discover that the AI component is by far the most complex. Chatbots have been around since 1966, so the progress is simply slow. It appears hard to make computer that understand the world like humans do.

But… we’re getting there! and we can at least have some simulations, and have fun in the proces!

 

 
  [ # 5 ]

Hi everyone thanks so much for the feedback.  I think I will start with the standalone project first.  Also can anyone reccomend any existing parts I could buy for now to get started.  May try to do from Scrach at some point.

Thanks

Robert

 

 
  [ # 6 ]

I have been looking at Ultra Hal for maybe the speech part.

 

 
  [ # 7 ]

Robert,

For a standalone bot you could go with something like Pandorabots which is free or there are several other commercial and enterprise type bots you can rent but for access to the source code, you will not be able to add on to beyond what their API will allow you. I know of a few open source projects in PHP and a few in C++ that may be a good starting point for you. I was in your shoes about 6 months ago when I started my project and finally decided it would be more a waste of my time to piece something together than just to build it from scratch, plus it has been a real learning experience and true feeling of accomplishment.

Just Google and you will find many resources to help get you started. 

Best of luck to you and keep us posted.

 

 
  [ # 8 ]

The build your own tab on the Chatbots.org home page may give you some pointers.

If you want to run it as a webbot from a host - Pandorabots & sitepal
If you want a fully functional desktop bot - Guile3d
If you can program and want to roll more of your own - Chatscript or an AIML interpreter (AIMLpad) & Dragon speech & sitepal of other avatar engine

If you want to run it from a desktop browser use Chrome (it has speech recognition).
Microsoft’s Agent tech can still be downloaded and used but it is no longer supported if you want to use IE.

A lot of it depends on what parts you want to build vs buy. Make human and Daz3d are also a good modeling systems to get you an avatar quickly.

 

 
  [ # 9 ]
Robert Glasco - Feb 13, 2012:

I have been looking at Ultra Hal for maybe the speech part.

Ultra Hal is another good solution, especially if you know how to program in Basic. It is extensible and has a pretty active community.

 

 
  [ # 10 ]

Hi everyone thanks so much.  I have programmed in Cobol, RPG on the AS400 and learn qbasic, or Quick Basic not sure now but I guess it would be VB these days.  In the last year i have fooled around with PHP but have not really programmed much in a while.  I am sure this will be a great learning experience for me.

Is PHP and Python good for me to learn?

Regards,

Robert

 

 
  [ # 11 ]

I love me some Python, and it has many NLP tools readily available as a part of the Natural Language Toolkit (google “nltk”), including corpora, taggers, stemmers, and WordNet. I wish I could offer some comparison with PHP, but I haven’t looked into what’s out there. PHP is probably the better (easier) option in terms of website integration. I learned Python in order to work on chatbot development because it has a reputation for being friendly with string handling (my only prior programming experience was in C++ and IDL). And in this sense Python doesn’t disappoint. smile

 

 
  [ # 12 ]

@ C R Hunt

So Python would be good for me to learn while doing my Standalone project and maybe PHP for my web Project?

@everybody I found a link for free comptuer science courses at http://academicearth.org/subjects/computer-science

Thanks,

Robert

 

 
  [ # 13 ]

In terms of programming languages, I don’t think you can really go wrong. The advantage of Python is that it’s quick to hack together code to test new ideas, but if you are proficient in another language, then you could perhaps be just as efficient that way. I found that C++ was too burdensome for what I wanted and then made the switch, but if you think PHP has all the tools you need to build the bot you want, just script the bot that way.

If you decide you need something beefier than PHP, Python could make up the back-end of both the standalone project and the web project, but you’ll have to ask someone with more experience than I on how to integrate Python with a website.

You mentioned that your focus is on machine learning and probabilistic reasoning. Python has a fantastic mathematical toolkit called NumPy. Maybe check and see what statistical tools you are interested in developing and if this package could be of use to you. I will say that Python can be ssslooowwer than some other potential languages of choice, which might become important if you plan to do a lot of bot training on large corpora. But these tools wouldn’t exist for Python, I suppose, if training time was so much more burdensome to other developers, yeah? smile

Something else you might want to check out is the Stanford Parser (http://nlp.stanford.edu/software/lex-parser.shtml). It was written in Java, but I know there’s a Python wrapper for it out there somewhere—google around. There’s probably wrappers in other languages as well. A lot of man hours went into producing this statistical parser and it might give you a huge leg up as a place to start. (Just make sure you’re ok with it being released under the GNU General Public License!)

 

 
  [ # 14 ]

Thanks I am sure I will have lots of questions when I start in a few weeks.  I am just doing my reseach for now.  I will keep checking this topic and ask quesions when needed in the other ones dealing with any specific quesions I have as this is my genearl question area.

Robert

 

 
  [ # 15 ]

I have it down to 4 programming Languages but pretty sure I am going with Python.

C# as a good friend has been programming in it for a long time

Java or VB.net

Any ideas if these other 3 languages are good for chatbot creation.

Thanks,

Rob

 

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