This is Mark Hopkins one of my bosses at Roger Wilco, the marketing firm I’m currently contracted with. He doubles as an IBM futurist and Bitcoin expert and offers those awesome skills to clients who need more than a little help with development. He explains what’s happening in the video a lot better than me, but I’ll give my two cents.
The bot’s name is Milo, from RoboKind. He’s an advanced social robot that helps children with autism develop social skills and self-regulation techniques. RoboKind and Mark got the brilliant idea of setting up Milo to communicate with people at conventions since RoboKind attends quite a few throughout the year. The only problem, up until now, Milo didn’t respond to people asking questions. So Mark and a few other programmers put their heads together to solve this problem and I was brought into help with the response side using IBM’s Watson Conversation Service.
In the video, I’m checking the conversation flow, making sure that we’re moving through the various branches I’d written and taking note of any hang-ups. Marking down sentences or words that Milo has trouble pronouncing and finding solutions to fix the phrasing. For example, Milo can’t say ‘ASD’, it comes out sounding like Acid. But he can say ‘Ay S D’, which is the phonetic way of saying it.
Another added challenge, none of the questions Mark is asking are pre-planned. You read that right. There are no pre-planned questions only premade responses. So a person can virtually ask Milo any way they want about his work with Robots4Autism. The Conversation service has something called Intents and Entities which helps guess what someone is trying to say in order to trigger the correct answer. It can be a bit tricky to figure out what someone will say, and it requires a different thought process than what I’m used to. Straight up, 30 minutes before this video was made, Mark kept asking all sorts of questions and the responses would keep breaking until I fixed the Intents.
I’m glad I can share this with everyone since for a long time I had nothing that showed off my game writer knowledge. While this isn’t really narrative writing, it does require some know-how of branching narrative and takes it a step further with user interaction from ‘these-are-replanned-options’ to ‘these-are-preplanned-response-figure-out-the-correct-question’. It’s fun, exciting, and still a little terrifying to be working with all this incredible technology and wonderful people.