Demo of an Ask Yale ChatBot

The Library IT Summer Interns,  Annissa Carter, Bryana Kilpatrick, and Jhoselyn Jara, created a Library Help Desk ChatBot demo. Adding a ChatBot to the Yale University Library would allow students to have  24/7 access to answers to questions they may have when the library is closed and no staff is available to help. The Interns took two of the most popular Ask Yale Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and added two additional questions they felt would be something a new student would need to know.

The questions they used in the ChatBot demo were:

  • I just graduated do I still have access to the library?
  • How can I reserve a locker in Bass Library?
  • What time does the library close/open?
  • What is the Yale Library website?

A ChatBot is a computer program designed to simulate a text-based conversation and have become increasingly popular in providing customer service over the internet or smart phones. Using the software platform provided by PlayBot, a company specializing in the creation and distribution of chatbots, it took the Interns three weeks to complete the Library Help Desk ChatBot demo.

Out of the box, a ChatBot is very limited in its responses, the person scripting the Bot needs to anticipate the different words the user may type in to ask questions. Those language nuances need to be taken into account for the user to receive an accurate response. In the example of the Library Help Desk Chatbot, Bryanna Kilpatrick, used scripting to determine the different forms of a greeting. She scripted the various forms of “hello” including “hey” and “hi” as possible options. Programming is essential, the ChatBot is only as responsive as the scripting is planned for, if you type outside of the prescribed phrases the ChatBot doesn’t know what you mean.

Example of ChatBot coding in AIML

The ChatBot tool uses AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language) which is an XML-compliant Lagrangian (Extensible Markup Language). XML is a markup language much like HTML that is designed to store and transport in a self-descriptive manner so it is human readable as well as machine readable. The demo was very successful and there may be a ChatBot coming to Ask Yale some time in the not so distant future.

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