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Design a Feminist Chatbot

Learn how to design and prototype a chatbot that doesn't reinforce harmful gender stereotypes.

Design a Feminist Chatbot
  • Duration4 weeks
  • Weekly study2 hours
  • LearnFree
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $59Find out more

Explore how ideas from feminism can help you design chatbots for good

We live in an age of conversations powered by artificial intelligence. From customer service chatbots to bots that help you meditate, conversational interfaces are becoming part of our everyday lives – some helping us to automate human work, and others aiming to improve wellbeing.

Yet chatbots can easily reinforce harmful gender stereotypes or promote discriminatory behaviour if their designers aren’t careful.

On this course, you’ll study feminism and its relationship to technology in order to help you build a feminist chatbot. You’ll learn feminist design tools and basic coding skills, before applying them to designing and programming a chatbot of your own.

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Chatbots are big business. Global brands are increasingly using them for digital marketing and to sell products. So why do we need to design feminist chatbots? I care about feminist chatbots because they are our day to day interaction with artificial intelligence, and if we are engaging with chatbots that have bias in their design or gender stereotypes, then those stereotypes become influential. Chatbots, like any other artificially intelligent system, can reinforce negative biases and stereotypes, or they can promote discriminatory behaviour if their designers don’t explicitly and consciously work to avoid this.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds By applying ideas from feminism to technology development, we can help people create products and services that promote equality and positive social change rather than making social problems like inequality or prejudice worse. So much of pre-existing bias in society can already be amplified in machine learning systems. So it’s important to think about what kind of conversational bias gets amplified more and more in conversational automation systems like chatbots. We’ve designed this course to help you become an ethically conscious and responsible chatbot designer and to create your own chatbot that has a really beneficial impact on its users and on society.

Skip to 1 minute and 27 seconds You’ll be learning from me and Alex Fefegha, the Head of Making at Comuzi Labs, and you’ll meet some other really interesting contributors along the way. By the end of the course, you’ll know a lot more about chatbots and how they work, as well as how they can reinforce bias and promote discriminatory behaviours. You’ll have learned a set of feminist design tools that can help you avoid all these problems. You will also have prototyped your own chatbot. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting with no experience of coding, because we’ll walk you through the whole process step by step. So we really hope that you enjoy the course, and we can’t wait to get started on the creative journey.

What topics will you cover?

  • Feminism and its relationship to technology

  • Feminist design tools

  • Feminist approaches to conversation design

  • Basic coding in a collaborative coding environment

  • Prototyping a feminist chatbot

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore current uses of chatbots and how they work
  • Interpret concepts of feminism and their relationship to technology
  • Explore feminist design tools and how they can be applied to chatbot development
  • Design a chatbot conversation using Whimsical flowcharts
  • Produce a prototype of a chatbot using Glitch, a community programming environment

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone interested in the social implications of technology, specifically the ethical issues surrounding chatbot design.

People curious about coding would benefit from this course, as would academics in the feminist or tech communities.

You might also be interested in the other courses in the Essential Creative Technologies collection from UAL Creative Computing Institute, Lancaster University and the Institute of Coding.

What software or tools do you need?

We’ll be asking you to use some other online tools and platforms such as Glitch during the course.

Who will you learn with?

I am co-founder of Feminist Internet, a non-profit that aims to make the Internet more equal by combining feminism, technology, art and design.

Co founder at COMUZI, a design studio.

Associate Lecturer at University of Arts London Creative Computing Institute.

Who developed the course?

UAL Creative Computing Institute

The UAL Creative Computing Institute (CCI) offers innovative new courses, research opportunities and a public platform to explore computer science and creative practice.

Institute of Coding

The Institute of Coding is a family of learners, businesses and educators creating a new way to develop the digital skills needed at work and beyond.

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