Rebecca and Eliza
I read this article about a chatbot named Woebot, a sort of shrink that works on the Facebook Messenger system.
(I have no idea why anyone would want Facebook to know even more about us than it already does?)
The article immediately reminded me of Eliza, a program written by Joseph Weizenbaum of MIT intended to show how simple it was to sound human by turning sentences into questions. Eliza is cited at the end of the article.
My encounter with Eliza occurred around 1978 when I was recycling from linguistics to computer science at the University of Georgia at Athens. Students in a computer club (there was no CS Department at that time) organized a demonstration of computer games. At that time games were simple programs like Pong. Our daughter, Rebecca Hill, who was about 10 years old at the time, had accompanied me to the event and was as bored as I was by the video games. As I was talking to the guys there about computers, Rebecca discovered a computer running Eliza and started interacting with her.
When I came over to see how Rebecca was doing, I found her excitedly typing messages to Eliza. Suddenly she turned to me and triumphantly showed me Eliza‘s last message to her, suggesting that she should seek admission to a mental hospital!
Rebecca had given herself the goal of getting Eliza to think she needed to be institutionalized! She had invented the best computer game in the room!