The inspiration for refug.ai is empathy. Empathy brings us closer together and ties us closer to causes we can take action on. My best friend is a refugee from Iraq, his house was bombed and he was forced to leave his home. I wanted to build a bot that would allow anyone to talk to a "refugee" and understand what it's like to cross a border and the many decisions and hardships that come along with moving to a new place.
What it does
Refug.ai is a chatbot that simulates a refugee's journey. The user is messaging a chatbot named Nur. She is a Syrian refugee crossing the border into Syria. Nur faces a series of challenges that user helps her through.
How I built it
I used wit.ai to build a storyline and to host the bot.
Challenges I ran into
I ran into time limits -- I came to the hackathon on Sunday because I was in NY until then. I would have liked to plug the bot into Messenger in time.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I researched actual challenges that refugees faced, for example, their belongings being confiscated. I reached out to my friend who inspired this to make sure this bot is sensitive and accurate.
What I learned
Teaching wit.ai to understand certain concepts isn't that difficult. It is very logical to teach a computer to understand that "Hi" and "Hey" are both greetings, for example.
What's next for Refug.ai
I plan to keep building out the storyline and adding more challenges and decisions for Nur and the user. I would like to have the chatbot be hosted on Facebook Messenger.
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