Chatbots you actually want to talk to

Images from music generated by DeepMind

The driving force of chatbots to date has been to provide information in a more personal way — providing quick access to questions as fast as possible. This has spawned the growth of chats systems like Alexa, Siri and Google Home where success is how fast an action be made to happen — “Alexa, turn on the lights” and so on. However these systems lack the personality that we are used to in the real world. The current chat systems make it easy to have a conversation that is a question and answer A-to-B and back again, but are not designed to hold interesting conversations. That is where comes in. was built from the ground up with the concept of personality, story progress, and enjoyable conversation at its heart. It combines the best in natural language processing techniques with storytelling structures from the entertainment industries, and game theory to given users as real sense of immersion into every experience built on the platform. is unique because it allows stories to be created within a chat experience.

This has led to some significant challenges in how to write interactive conversations. For example, has the concept of character memory woven in. This means that characters can not only remember and recall a user’s name, but also what they have said, what decisions they made, and even the mood they were in during a particular conversation. This creates a foundation where, as in real life, good conversation is as much about listening as it is talking.

Memory allows these conversations to be personalized, which then leads to more of an engaged experience. For entertainment, this is vital. An audience that is not engaged with a story will switch off. For brands, an engaged audience means a loyal audience that can identify with a brand’s values and personality, not just its call centre voice, or worse its voice as Alexa or Siri.

In fact, memory is such a significant part of the experience that we are working with King’s College London in a project sponsored by Innovate UK to research and define the ways in which storytelling changes when a character has memory of its relationships with the user, and with other characters.

The results of this research will be made public of course to help accelerate the already rapid growth of narrative developments, and we hope that through all the projects that are partners are creating on will lead to a much more enjoyable internet all round.

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