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Facebook is making a chatbot that can fill awkward silences

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Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty

There are a lot of things that chatbots have yet to master and high on the list is small talk. But researchers at Facebook think the best way to make software prattle away is to give it a personality.

The team crowdsourced their chatbot personas from 11,000 online workers on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Workers were asked to roleplay in pairs and to give statements describing made-up personas, including their likes and dislikes. The crowdworkers’ chatter was linked to these description statements and used to train the chatbots.

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Article amended on 29 January 2018

We corrected Jason Weston’s name and the reality status of the workers’ personae

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