What's your name, how old are you and where do you come from?
Lars Willner, 39 year's old. I'm born and raised in Sweden, but I live in beautiful Oslo, the capital of Norway.
What do you do for a living?
I'm exploring how chatbots and conversation technology can help students develop psychological safety and build relationships in learning communities. I'm the CEO of a small Norwegian company called Differ.Chat, which is also the coordinating this amazing Edubots project.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
I love getting to know new people from different countries and cultures, and also making use of new tech innovations.
Can you remember the first time you met a chatbot?
I can't remember the first chatbot, but when thinking about it, some of the computer games I played as a kid had conversational design as part of the core game experience. Even though it was "scripted" conversations, it did make it feel like I had a personal and direct conversation with the game characters. And perhaps even more importantly, it made me feel like one of the characters myself! Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the game but I think many games had similar conversational interfaces.
How would you describe your current relationship to chatbots?
I think my relationship with chatbots is primarily a job relationship, as I still don't invite bots in to my personal life that often. Personally, I think I would have invited a virtual voice assistant home, if it wasn't for some family data privacy concerns from other family members. Professionally, I'm convinced of the potential value of next-generation chatbots and conversational agents, providing a more personal and engaging user experience. But data privacy is a challenging but important topic to address.