According to Weizenbaum, ELIZA’s ability to be “incrementally improved” by various users made it similar to Eliza Doolittle, However, unlike in Shaw’s play, ELIZA is incapable of learning new patterns of speech or new words through interaction alone.
Edits must be made directly to ELIZA’s active script in order to change the manner by which the program operates.
ELIZA's creator, Weizenbaum regarded the program as a method to show the superficiality of communication between man and machine, but was surprised by the number of individuals who attributed human-like feelings to the computer program, including Weizenbaum’s secretary.
Many academics believed that the program would be able to positively influence the lives of many people, particularly those suffering from psychological issues and that it could aid doctors working on such patients’ treatment.
Using the script’s rules, the sentence is then ‘dismantled’ and arranged into sections of the component parts as the “decomposition rule for the highest ranking keyword” dictates.
It was 15 years before the personal computer became familiar to the general public, and three decades before most people encountered attempts at natural language processing in Internet services like or PC help systems such as Microsoft Office Clippy.
However, many early users were convinced of ELIZA’s intelligence and understanding, despite Weizenbaum’s insistence to the contrary.
In January 2018, the twelfth episode of the American sitcom Young Sheldon starred the protagonist "conversing" with ELIZA, hoping to resolve a domestic issue.
If such words are found, they are put into a ‘keystack’, with the keyword of the highest RANK at the top.
The input sentence is then manipulated and transformed as the rule associated with the keyword of the highest RANK directs. This also demonstrates how certain words, as dictated by the script, can be manipulated regardless of contextual considerations, such as switching first-person pronouns and second-person pronouns and vice versa, as these too had high precedence numbers.