First of its kind chatbot launches this week

Community Law Wellington has launched a chatbot for problems at school. Wagbot is a chatbot that knows the answers to many questions about problems parents and students have with schools in Aotearoa. You can chat to Wagbot here: http://m.me/wagbot.

“There is nothing out there quite like this in New Zealand” says Geoffrey Roberts, General Manager of Community Law Wellington. “Wagbot can understand natural language and gets smarter over time the more people chat to it.”

Wagbot’s knowledge base is built around the content of a book published by Community Law Wellington titled Problems at School. Matthew Bartlett who led the technical development of Wagbot says “This chatbot works well as a way of informing people about their options in a conversational way. It’s very quick to respond, can chat to multiple people at once and you don’t need to download an app as it is freely available through Facebook Messenger.”

Wagbot has been getting a lot of attention from teenagers across New Zealand over recent weeks and the team at Community Law Wellington have been using these conversations to train Wagbot to better respond to issues. “Wagbot uses machine learning algorithms to improve its understanding and usefulness” says Matthew. “We also have access to thousands of call logs from our Student Rights phone line (0800 499 488) that when fed to Wagbot make it even smarter.”

The next challenge for the development team is to apply this technology to the Community Law Manual; a 900 page book with nearly 3000 questions and answers on common legal issues. “Wagbot is teaching us about how to tackle this next challenge” says Matthew. “The intersect of artificial intelligence and the law is a really fascinating space and we are keen to pursue every opportunity in this area.”

Community Law Wellington are in discussions with several organisations about partnering with them to develop chatbot interfaces for various applications.  “It’s an exciting time for us and we are keen to work with people to apply this technology across a range of information and advocacy services” says Geoffrey.  “If we can get this technology working at the scale of the Community Law Manual it will be the closest thing to a robot lawyer New Zealand has seen.”

Contact: Geoffrey Roberts | 027 392 5804 | geoffrey@wclc.org.nz

Notes for Editors:

  • We can also provide extra content and anecdotes from the conversations Wagbot has been having with teens
  • We can provide extra information about our other projects involving legal information and AI, as well as talk about chatbots in general

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