Britbot

2019/04/01

Britbot Screenshot.Britbot installed in an interactive space.

Britbot (2018), by Libby Heany, is an online chatbot experience that asks the user to engage in questions about Britishness. Through its conversations it develops ideas about what being British means.

The bot was originally trained on the United Kingdom government’s citizenship test and the corresponding text-book: Life in the UK: a guide for new residents, 2017.

Britbot was commissioned in 2017 by Sky Arts as part of the Art 50 programme. Britbot was live from 2018 to 2019 learned from the people that interacted with. Britbot Screenshot.The book on which the bot was originally trained.It exhibited across the United Kingdom at various festivals and events including the Sheffield Doc Fest 2018, Cognition X Festival London 2018 (curated by Luba Elliott), Edinburgh TV Festival 2018, V&A Digital Design Weekend 2018 and Openfest:Art 50 at the Barbican in February 2019. It was also presented at the 2018 NeurIPS Creativity Workshop as well as DemoCamp Edmonton 40.

I developed the computational algorithms behind the Britbot. The system uses techniques in natural language processing for speech-to-text voice recognition and text-to-speech voice synthesis. This allows the bot to hear and speak to the users.

For dialog management, the system used a combination of rule-based and purely-generative based methods. There was a defined conversational structure, but the system was able to improvise inside of the defined constraints.

The language modeling was performed with Google TensorFlow Hub’s Universal Sentence Encoder and the response generation uses a combination of semantic matching, word-level language generation, and post-generation re-ranking.

Here are some videos describing the Britbot in action: