I was already a researcher on a mission but now I’m also a researcher with a bot. Probably one of the firsts ones (not bragging about it, more the contrary, no competition is typically a bad sign).

Chatting with my bot

My virtual me is ready to answer your questions 24/7. Feel free to give it a try yourself, you should see a chatbot icon on the bottom right side of the website. Click to open it and start chatting. See an example in the above screenshot. The bot is obviously built with Xatkit (via the Xatkit WordPress Connector). The bot right now is only able to answer a short range of questions (more on this below) but, at least, and thanks to the magic of Natural Language Engines, it understands a variety of alternative phrasings so you don’t need to guess the exact match. For instance, the previous book question can also be formulated as:

Alternative ways to pose the same question

You can even ask the bot for a copy of one of my papers. For instance, imagine that you want the pdf of our recent “Grand Challenges in Model-Driven Engineering” paper. The conversation could start as follows:

Bot to find a research paper

At this point, the bot will immediately notify me on Slack (another of the platforms with native support in Xatkit) with the paper request information.

Bot to request a paper on Slack

Why a bot?

You may be wondering why the hell I added a bot to my personal website. I’ll give you three:

  • To begin with, as co-founder of Xatkit, I want to explore the use of chatbots in as many contexts as possible.
  • Besides, I’ve also always believed that part of my work as a researcher is trying to disseminate as much as possible the work we do. To me, this includes blogging (my modeling-languages site has been around more than 10 years and got over 1 million visitors so far!) but also any new social platform that helps interact with other students, researchers and professionals. And this now includes chatbots to aim to reach even more people
  • Finally, chatbots are a great way to know what people are curious about. They offer an anonymous alternative to ask any type of question. Right now, the bot won’t be able to answer many of these questions but I’ll be monitoring the bot to detect the unmatched utterances and make sure new versions of the chatbot are more useful.

Let’s see how the experiment goes. As always any feedback is highly appreciated.