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"If you don't care about science enough to be interested in it on its own, you shouldn't try to write hard science fiction."
- Frederik Pohl

Personality Simulator  
  A computer program that presents the appearance of being a person.  

This is a relatively early example of this idea.

A pair of glowing eyes set in a coal black head rose briefly from the moat. A second later, the rest of the creature came surging into view, cascading sparks and lava down upon the traveler.

Alan that was the elemental's favorite name peered nearsightedly, his head weaving faintly from side to side as he tried to recognize the traveler. "Ah, I do believe we are honored with the presence of Mr. slippery, is it not so?" He finally said.

Alan was a personality simulator, of course. Mr. slippery was sure that there had never been a living operator behind that toothless, glowing smile. But he was certainly one of the best, probably the product of many hundreds of blocks of psylisp programming, and certainly superior to the little "companionship programs" you can buy nowadays, which generally become repetitive after a few hours of conversation, which don't grow, and which are unable to counter weird responses...

Satisfied, Allen waved a clawed fist at the watcher in the tower, and the gate ceramic bound in wolfram clasps was rapidly lowered for the visitor.

From True Names, by Vernor Vinge.
Published by Dell Binary Star in 1981
Additional resources -

Compare to the personality simulator in the Dosadi Experiment, a 1977 novel by Frank Herbert.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from True Names
  More Ideas and Technology by Vernor Vinge
  Tech news articles related to True Names
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