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Getting AIMLpad to Speak

(by Gary Dubuque)

If the Use MS Agent menu option under Tools -> Context is grayed out when you run AIMLpad.exe, please refer to the getting started tutorial for installation instructions.

This lesson was a present to me from Stefan Zakarias. I thank him dearly for the fun it has been.

The MS Agent will appear when the Dialog mode is on and the Use MS Agent is on. You turn the Use MS Agent on with Ctrl-Y or Tools -> Context -> Use MS Agent. You turn the Dialog mode on so that the interpreter is engaged with Ctrl-D or Tools -> Context -> Dialog.

The agent then uses the text-to-speech engine to pronounce the responses generated by the interpreter.

It's that simple.

A few options are available. The default is the Genie character. This can be changed if other character files have been downloaded. It is even possible to make your own characters.

The options.ini file has two parameters that control the MS Agent interface. They are MSagent and MSagentfile. The first is a number which determines if AIMLpad should use MS Agent. If it is 0, then the agent is turned off. If it is not zero, the agent can be used. A 2 starts AIMLpad with the agent active and ready to go. The second is a name of a file like genie.acs or robbie.acs or merlin.acs or peedy.acs which are the four free characters provided by Microsoft.

So why care about a speaking bot? This is the fascinating part. There are products on the market which are pretty good at voice recognition. So it is possible to talk to AIMLpad. Holding a conversation by talking seems to tap a different part of the brain. The queries feel more natural. I believe applying a learning tool will bring this more natural effect to the bot's responses. All we need to do is switch the roles so that its the bot asking and the client responding. Then the natural learning begins.

To facilitate this, I added a script command to speak. Within the script we can ask for the response. The command is say $text. This command will only currently work if the agent is already visible.

(Edited for the SourceForge site by Stefan Zakarias)

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