I go by Lou, but my entire family calls me Louie, so I smiled when I found out that there is such a thing called a Language User Interface that uses natural language to drive an application and that it was called a LUI.

In a LUI, you use natural language. So this is not the same as a keyword search or a terminal style UI that uses simple commands like the SABRE airline booking system.

In this video, it output responses on a printer. But the display terminal version was not that different. I worked on software that interfaced with it in 1992, and this 1960’s version is very recognizable to me.

But, this is not a LUI. A LUI does not make you remember a list of accepted commands and their parameters. You give it requests in just the way you would a person, with regular language.

In SABRE, a command might look like this:


But, in a SABRE LUI, you’d say “What flights are leaving Chicago O’Hare for Laguardia at 5pm today?” which may be more learnable, but a trained airline representative would be a lot faster with the arcane commands.

With a more advanced version that understood “Rebook Lou Franco from his flight from here to New Orleans to NYC instead” that uses many underlying queries and commands (and understands context), the LUI would also be a lot faster.

This would have seemed far-fetched, but with ChatGPT and other LLM systems, it feels very much within reach today.