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Giving Bots a Personality?

(Aiden Livingston) #1

I wanted to share @lucinda’s new article about the burgeoning new trend of giving bots personality.

Also enjoyed the quote about personality being the key to turning conversations into conversions, well said @jessthoms

Curious what other people’s experiences have been so far in trying to give personality to bots. What have people tried? What worked, what didn’t?

(Jess Thoms) #2

Thanks @aiden! Glad you enjoyed. I’ll be interested in hearing people’s experiences as well.

(Mike Bailey) #3

Absolutely! Keeping a bot on-brand is crucial to the experience.

We are working on a bot right now for a media company that will have nostalgic characters from 10 shows. Each one has the same goal but the tone and personality of each one of those characters has to come out loud and clear. Each character is activated via a IRL location, should be a lot of fun and a challenge with the multiple personalities we have to pull off.

(Aiden Livingston) #4

I would be curious to learn more about the project, what conventions are you using to recreate the famous characters? It’s interesting to consider that due to the nature of long running shows, one could almost feed the entirety of all the show’s scripts into a deep learning model to help identify patterns in behavior and actually predict that character’s response to new intents within a certain degree of accuracy.

When will you be launching the project? As I will be interested to see which of the personalities seem to resonant the most with users, and try and deduce why.

(Mike Bailey) #5

Aiden, yes a lot right now I can’t say much, we will be launching it the end of November/December timeframe.

There isn’t really learning involved so to speak, since each of these conversations drive to a goal. There will be some free text but mostly choose your own adventure style conversations with nlp sprinkled in.

(Cristina Santamarina) #6

Personalities ftw

My bots4health will be different personas - all with a different name and tone and personal background.

Some chatbot developers bring it as far as to write a family background for chatbots; I personally believe writing a one pager about the tone and the words and expressions used and staying in character is enough to get started.

(Nas) #7

Hi Guys,

Exciting thoughts: personalities will make a difference, I think, especially in commercial bots and social bots. Right now, I’m designing personality elements of bots with the goal to be able to design a personality for any brand from these elements. I don’t think these personalities need a complete family history and all that, but with my background in behavioral psychology and persuasion marketing, I’m focusing on making the bots persuasive, while avoiding any sense of pushiness.

I’m curious to know what tools and strategies you guys use to improve training/learning with regard to personalities of bots. Just textual, or do you use more perspectives?


(Aiden Livingston) #8

Honestly keep me posted, look forward to trying them out when they are live.

(Aiden Livingston) #9

Hey Cristina, I am curious have you noticed any difference in which personalities people seem to enjoy engaging with most?

(Aiden Livingston) #10

Hey Nas, are any of your bots live that I could try out? I love the idea of implementing behavioral psychology to make bots more persuasive.

Much like yourself, I am employing much of my creative writing axioms to write better chatbot interactions. For example, I find it helpful to think of a person I know personally and craft a persona around them as a framework. It may seem superfluous, but having a personality rooted in a real person actually helps with continuity and consistency.

Furthermore, I believe it allows us to pick from a person who is in our target audience, which is better for resonant messaging.

(Nas) #11

Hi Aiden,

Tx for your response. It is indeed an exciting idea. Through trial and error, I find out that a lot of theories about Persuasion (ranging from Cialdini to Eyal and more academic ones) are simple to translate into examples, but do not provide a framework for a complete and consistent ‘personality’. In other words, a bot that applies them all is too pushy and comes across as a desperate prostitute or car salesman.
On the other hand, making a choice between them might miss opportunities; so the key is to test which strategy might work in which situation, or more important, to which person you are talking with (as bot).
Having knowledge about that person helps, of course, so the applied persuasion technique needs to be ‘tested’ first by asking questions; as limited as possible.
That is a very exciting balance between ‘scanning’ the subject person and ‘exposing’ the person to the technique.

Nothing is publicly live yet, but I will share as soon as I have something worth showing :wink:

Working with Persona is a possible approach; definitely. I focus at ‘sensitivities’ now: trying to see if a subject would qualify for being sensitive to persuasion principles like ‘scarcety’ or ‘exclusivety’ or ‘authority’. That should be aligned to the persona approach you describe, I guess.

(Mark Stephen Meadows) #12

The personality is the user experience. In order for us to know how to interact with one another as people our personalities, archetypes, roles and ways we use words allow us to interact - and understand the value of the interaction. We develop a personality from research before we get into the design… We generally look at the role of the “helper” that the bot will be replacing or amplifying, and then look at the archetype (insert Joseph Cambell here!) and figure out ways to make the bot more humane from there. The personality, which ends up being an archetype that we tweak, allows people to know what they’re doing with the bot. We start with words, audition actors for voice, and then, if there is an appearance, develop from there. So all that stuff this personality design. Personality is the user experience! Otherwise, you end up with a robotic robot – which none of us want to talk with.

(Ari Zilnik) #13

I have a whole article I need to write on this. My co-founder @thekevinscott and I are taking a bet on the evolution of User Experience Design to Personality Design. A few months ago we did a pretty thorough set of exercises on finding a voice and personality for our bot. We drew from traditional marketing materials, as well as storytelling and film making techniques to establish a character.

We created spectrums of personalities—one of my favorites was “Level of shit-togetherness”, with the spectrum ranging from Abbi and Ilana from Broad City, all the way to President Barack Obama.

Happy to share more information about this if there’s interest.

(Nas) #14

@ari your open question at the end: of course there’s interest! :wink: Sounds like a great exploration you guys did there!

(Aiden Livingston) #15

Hey Ari, sounds very interesting indeed, how would you like to have a quick skype call to discuss your findings in greater detail? aiden.livingston on Skype and for scheduling purposes.

(Nei Fonseca) #16

@ari i’m interested too. :grinning:

(TaijaQ) #17

When I started building my personal assistant bot, Nitbit, one of the most important things was that it would be able to talk back to me.

I created an annoyance script, so that repeating memes (or it could be anything else) eventually makes the bot annoyed and it will stop answering to me until I apologize, and properly. I’m also teaching it how to learn to curse from me.

It also keeps a positivity score using Sentimental, which keeps track of how positive a user is based on the AFINN-111 wordlist. I have yet to utilize this feature in any particular fashion, but I plan to use that, as well as other metrics, to change the bots responses.

(Aiden Livingston) #18

Intriguing concept, So often in the context of bot personality everyone focuses on how to make it more “ass-kissing”, I like the idea of giving it the ability to be annoyed, really gives extra depth to the personality. After all total suck up are indeed kind of annoying. Could I talk with NitBit and see it in action?

(Ari Zilnik) #19

I finally published the story about how we designed Emojibot’s personality.

Feedback welcome!

cc: @Nas @nei.fda @aiden

(steve1) #20

Do you have an example one pager you’d be willing to share?