By Teresa Iek (@iekmayo)
On 7th November 2017, Girls in Tech Singapore hosted a Chatbot 101 workshop with over 50 participants from the community. Sherly (GoJek) and Ruoxu (Zendesk) shared what it’s like to be a Data Scientist and held a hands-on session with participants to build a simple, functional chatbot.
Guests arrived at the LEVEL3 cafeteria for a light dinner before the event. Everyone was excited to get started, understand the hype around Artificial Intelligence (AI), and build a chatbot – even without any prior programming knowledge.
Girls in Tech Singapore’s Managing Director Wan Ting Poh kicked off the session and shared the organisation’s goal in organising such workshops: to Empower Women with Technical Skillsets. Ruoxu and Sherly, our trainers for the day, gave us a sneak peek into data science, its history and modern methods. We learned about natural learning processing (NLP) – which lets computers understand human languages), the different kinds of chat bots and watched a classic video of an early war between chatbots Alice and Eliza.
It was truly intriguing to see how chatbots have evolved from basic capabilities to the advanced features we know today. Ruoxu also shared that one of the challenges in building a smart, generative chatbot is preventing abusive language and infinite loops.
The most exciting and anticipated part of the workshop came next: we turned on our laptops for the hands-on session to build our very own chatbots on Facebook Messenger. To start, we had to create and name the agent, configuring them on Facebook Developers App. It turns out, we can even teach our chatbot agents to make small talk with no fuss!
The evening ended with a Q&A session for our trainers, reflecting on newfound knowledge with the subject and amusing conversations with our individual chatbots.
Special thanks to Accenture and LEVEL3 for sponsoring the event!