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This content is taken from the UAL Creative Computing Institute & Institute of Coding's online course, Design a Feminist Chatbot. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsThis is the introduction to what is a chatbot, and how does it work, and how you can distinguish a difference between a scripted chatbot and one that is powered by NLP.

Skip to 0 minutes and 20 secondsA chatbot is a computer program which conducts a conversation via audio or text methods. Another word for chatbots is also called conversational interfaces. They're basically the same thing.

Skip to 0 minutes and 33 secondsChatbots are used for different purposes: You might have a mental health chatbot, a customer service bot, a bot that wants to be your friend, or even bots that turn on your lights. In my work, the easiest way to build a chatbot is one that's scripted. What that means is that the bot does not learn from your responses. Its purpose is to respond to specific commands and answer specifically phrased questions. So from a programming perspective, the bot has been programmed with a set of questions which allows the bot to respond to you, the user, with a corresponding set of answers.

Skip to 1 minute and 14 secondsAnd so from a sort of design perspective, each conversation can follow a number of defined paths, which for me is super ideal. And so my projects, I tend to build bots in this way, especially where users don't have to type anything. So I get them to select from a list of questions and commands that the bot understands. Let's bring the AI part into this. You have bots that attempt to learn from you. They leverage machine learning capabilities such as natural language processing or NLP for short. A simple definition for NLP is that it helps computers understand, disseminate, and communicate what we call human language. So when Gmail auto-completes sentences in your emails, NLP is being used.

Skip to 2 minutes and 4 secondsSmart devices like Alexa and Siri use NLP to understand what they're being asked. When it comes to chatbots, NLP allows you to have a conversation with a bot that has a memory of your last conversation, so over time it can create a more personalized experience. Using NLP, a chatbot can basically grow with you. So I hope now you have a better understanding of what chatbots are and how they work.

Skip to 2 minutes and 36 secondsSee you later in the course where we're going to make some really cool chatbots.

What are chatbots and how do they work?

We’re now going to start to explore how chatbots are created. In this video, Alex describes two kinds of chatbot: scripted chatbots and chatbots that are powered by artificial intelligence, or AI.

Alex talks about how these two types of chatbots work. He also describes a kind of AI technology called natural language processing, or NLP, which is an important part of some chatbots.

You can download a summary of the differences between the two types of chatbot using the link at the bottom of this step. We recommend that you look at this before you start the quiz on the next step.

How has Alex’s explanation changed your understanding of chatbots or your feelings about using them? Share your ideas with other learners in the discussion at the bottom of the step.

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This video is from the free online course:

Design a Feminist Chatbot

UAL Creative Computing Institute