Can a chatbot help you feel happier? ? - Technical.ly DC

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Oct. 11, 2016 12:20 pm

Can a chatbot help you feel happier? ?

NoVA-based product manager Dave Jeyes thinks it can. That's why he built Joyboto.

Happiness, the bot way.

(Photo by Flickr user Victor Björkund, used under a Creative Commons license)

Dave Jeyes is fascinated by imagining what role artificial intelligence will play in our future lives.

“Chatbots and artificial intelligence are creating new ways of humanizing technology that are really interesting,” the local product manager reflected in an email to Technical.ly. But this technology is still in its infancy, still ripe for casual, conceptual experimentation. So Jeyes built a chatbot.

Joyboto, which lives in Facebook Messenger, is a bot that aims to “push people to chase their dreams and to take a more active role in managing their happiness.” For Jeyes, who has a background in human-computer interaction, the project is both an exploration of technological possibility and a personal quest.

“This project started after I had been working at startups for a few years and found myself utterly burnt out,” Jeyes told Technical.ly. “It was affecting my work, my relationships and even starting to take a toll on my health.”

Jeyes realized that he would be happier if he was pursuing his dreams and taking time for himself, even in small measure, every day. So he created a bot to remind himself (and others) to do just that. The tech-savvy version of writing an inspirational note-to-self and putting it on your mirror or laptop case or whatever.

Joyboto is super simple. In a series of short questions, Joy asks the user to reflect on whether they are working toward a certain dream and whether they spent time working toward that dream todayDid you enjoy yourself today? the bot asks.

The user is then asked to rate their happiness on a scale from one to 10. Depending on your answers to the preceding, Joy offers a jaunty congratulations or a stern reminder to look after your happiness.

A look at Joyboto. (Screenshot)

A look at Joyboto. (Screenshot)

“I can see chatbots playing different roles as personal coaches, companions and mentors in the future,” Jeyes said. “Just imagine if you could teach artificial intelligence concepts like wisdom or kindness.”

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Joyboto is … definitely not there yet. The interaction feels stilted and inhuman in a quintessentially computer-driven way. But then again, this is early stage AI we’re talking about. And Jeyes said he’s been getting a “surprising” amount of positive response. “Some people are even incorporating the check-ins into their daily practice, which is really exciting,” he wrote. So what do you think — could a simple Messenger bot like Joy actually make you happier?

Why not try it and find out.

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