By Robert Van Scoyk
September 19, 2017
Rather than trying to sail a boat made of reeds and bamboo across an ocean just to demonstrate that people from ancient times might have done so, I shall instead choose to prove that people (literate ones, at least) long possessed the technology to make their own chatbot. I shall leave the question of whether or not any ancient people had actually ever done so for another essay.
If I ever demonstrate this on video, it would look a lot like a cooking show.
First you will need:
Actually, if you want to go the “orthodox ancient” route, you could use a paintbrush, paint, papyrus, a knife and the bowls could be made out of earthenware.
Label each bowl, “templates”, “adjectives”, “adjectives post”, “adverbs”, “interjections”, “nouns”, “pronouns”, “prepositions”, “pronoun modifiers”, “questions”, “verbs indicative”, and “verbs transitive”. Some of these wordtypes can be combined in the same bowl.
Write down a whole bunch of words on some sheets of paper. Take the scissors, cut up the paper into individual words and fill up each bowl with each kind of word type.
Take some of your favorite sentences and write them down on some sheets of paper. Label each word according to word type.
Take the scissors again, cut out each sentence and put them them into the bowl marked “templates”.
Ask a question or make a statement.
Pick a random template, then write down the wordtypes and punctuation on a separate sheet of paper.
Now fill in the blanks with words randomly picked from the corresponding word-type bowl.
At this point the results will probably look like pure gibberish, so you will need to do some reprocessing.
Go back to the pronouns and match or countermatch some of pronouns with that of the words that you have just said. For example “me”, “you”, “my”, “your”, etc. For other pronouns, you can discard the ones that don’t fit and try to pick better ones.
Match the nouns, verbs and maybe adjectives with that of the speaker for more lucidity. For a more spontaneous flow of the words, you can flip a coin and decide whether to match the words or use words picked randomly from the bowls.
Now all you have to do is fix the grammar. You will want to make sure that the prepositions and adverbs match the verbs and nouns so that you don’t get something like “I’m going to run over the store”. The rest of the grammar is mostly about which tense to use, but English grammar sure is tricky.
There, you are done. You can say something else and repeat the process as many times as you like.