Data driven chatbots: A new approach to conversational applications
Chatbots and conversational interfaces are becoming ubiquitous and a new HCI paradigm to access applications and information. This paper proposes a novel approach and an innovative technology (iCHAT) for the development of “data-driven chatbots”. Key ingredients are “meta-conversation”, “conversation tables” (controlling the interface), and a “conversation engine”. Several advantages are envisioned: (i) lower effort for developing new conversational applications; (ii) easiness of maintenance and update, and therefore improved quality; (iii) possibility for content experts of developing conversational applications, without the need of ICT experts. The approach of iCHAT is quite general and it can be applied to all domains. It is being tested by developing a conversational tutor, supporting adaptive learning, for two MOOCs developed at Politecnico di Milano (Italy) in the frame of an EIT program. This paper describes the overall architecture of iCHAT and analyzes its most original aspects: the conversation engine and the conversation tables.