The recycling organisation of Yokohama city in Japan has released a chatbot to clarify the public’s queries on garbage sorting. As most people, if not all, will know, Japan is highly particular about sorting trash into combustible items, plastic containers and packaging, and recyclable waste which includes cans, glass bottles and PET bottles. They even have a designated collection day for each category!
It can be difficult to determine which item falls into what category, even for the locals. But with the help of this chatbot, all you have to do is to key in the name of the garbage item and it will tell you what to do. It even gives advice on things to take note when discarding certain items, such as a lighter.
But all is well until someone typed in ‘husband’.
To the surprise of many, instead of an error 404 (i.e. answer cannot be found), the chatbot returned an amazing reply:
It replied: “Armand Salacrou once said, ‘People get married due to the lack of judgement, divorce because of the lack of patience, and re-marry with the lack of memory.’ Why not try training your patience?”
It is the intelligent kind of reply that makes you chuckle, something you would not expect from a machine. But as it turned out, there is (of course!) a person behind this brilliant answer.
This chatbot is the child of Mictionary, the database on garbage sorting from Yokohama city, and Repl-AI, chatbot technology from Japan’s telecommunications company NTT Docomo. It is born to raise awareness and spread knowledge on garbage sorting.
Mictionary has been keeping a record of the keywords users have searched, and among them are non-garbage terms like ‘husband’. As the dull Q&A comes alive with the injection of Repl-AI, an idea was raised: Wouldn’t it be interesting if we give an answer to such keywords?
With that, the answer to ‘husband’ is actually a well thought out reply by the staff of Yokohama City Recycling Organisation. “Using quotes avoids upsetting the user yet allows room for thoughts. We do not intend to give personal opinions,” a representative from Yokohama City Recycling Organisation highlighted.
To top it off, such interesting reply is not limited to ‘husband’. Other terms like ‘marriage’, ‘life’, ‘anger’ and ‘boyfriend’ also cue a similar reply.
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