Do you know those virtual entities that take the role of human?! From Verbot to Siri? We are still far away from artificial intelligence, but this does not mean that huge step forward have been done and are now under our eyes for everyday use.
A computer program able to behave like a virtual e-mail correspondent that can reply to a wide variety of messages from our account is what is commonly referred (I would say the basic version) of a chatbot (or chatterbot).
Chat + (ro)bot is like talking with a human, although in reality you are doing just virtual conversation with lines of codes. In the most advanced versions you can even chat with a metallic voice.
The approach behind is to use the question of the user as keywords and put together an answer with the most relevant words related. An illusion of understanding is generated, even though the processing involved (i.e. the code) is pretty superficial.
As here somehow shown here by Dilbert, the true difference between a pure replying-machine and a chatbot is the ability of this latter to provide answers that are sufficiently generic to seem enough smart and applicable to different situations.
In the end, what is the meaning of intelligence?
PS. We are close to implement (successfully?) the Tuning (spider) Test…