NAO, chatbots, teaching and just plain showing off

I  managed to do something I have want to do for a long time, show off social robots; (now I have three goes at it) thanks to the recent purchase of NAO robots by the University of Northampton. 

Session 1
In an in-reach STEAM activity day I have had the opportunity to show the robots in action to a group of 8 years olds. As well presenting a short presentation on social robots.

I would be interested to hear how others are using NAOs via comments.

Session 2 and 3
I have managed to include a physical example of Social Robots into my teaching. The aim of the session was to teach about social AI, revolving around the using social cues, to a certain extent, using natural language through chatbots, for us to communicate with machines.

The robots were used as an example of a social robot,  the way we want to play with or work with them, without having to going through a steep learning curve on how to use them. Students were encouraged to consider why this was and that anthropomorphisation plays a part (NAO basically has some of the characteristics of a small child). The fact that it responds to voice commands, its looks, has a childlike voice, that it always moving (even slightly when standing) and the way it moves; were spotted by the group as ways it attracts us to it - it is really hard not to talk to it like a child sometimes (but perhaps that is just me).

This session also included the use of chatbots (one example, ALICE used is shown here) and AIML, Artificial Intelligence Markup Language, (a link to more about AIML is included below). Just as a bit of background, chatbots (also called variously, chatterbots, conversational agents, etc) are programs that hold a conversation with us using through either text or speech. The chatbots were used to show how we can create intelligent-like behave by in effect providing responses to questions. Followed by, how we then take this further by using the responses people give, while using the chatbot, to 'fine-tune' the model.

To read more about NAO robots go to
To read more on AIML go to

Example chatbots

If you would like to create your own chatbot personally I think one of the easiest ways to start is through

All opinions in this blog are the Author's and should not in any way be seen as reflecting the views of any organisation the Author has any association with.