The Human Robot Friendship Ball, now in its second year, is an event held as part of the Vivid Sydney Festival. The Ball is intended to encourage young people to consider STEM disciplines and get excited about robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), and how technology can be used in daily life. 

This year, UOW’s Decision Systems Lab (DSL) was invited to field some of its chatbots at the event.

Two chatbots, built by Yingzhi Gou, a PhD student of the Decision System Lab, participated in the Ball this year. Mary (Quite Contrary), was the contrarian chatbot who challenged the human dialogue participants to think laterally. Dora (The Explorer) was built to demonstrate how easy it is to build chatbots. Dora’s conversational repertoire progressively improved as a direct consequence of applying machine learning to the dialogues that occurred with the children at the event.

Photo: From left to right: Joel Kocherry (PhD student – DSL), Yingzhi Gou (PhD student – DSL), Prof. Aditya Ghose

The UOW team consisted of Yingzhi Gou and Joel Kocherry (both PhD students in the Decision Systems Lab) and Prof. Aditya Ghose.

The event was well-attended by young people and their families, who left with great memories of their conversations with the UOW chatbots and the future of this technology in learning applications.