Britbot is an artwork by Libby Heaney exploring 'British' identity. It is a computer program you can talk to that was trained initially on a version of Britishness related to the UK citizenship test. As Britbot interacts with people, it learns from what they say to become a wider reflection of Britain today.
You do not need to know anything about 'Britishness' to speak to Britbot. It wants to hear your views and opinions on the subject.
We only store the text transcripts of the conversations people have with Britbot. The microphone and webcam are automatically switched off after the conversation. During the conversation, we do not save any video. Likewise, we do not collect any directly identifying data such as names, birthdays or addresses.
At first, Britbot’s questions and responses are inspired by topics in the UK citizenship test. When you answer a question and Britbot responds it sifts through hundreds of books, online articles and debates and compiles a reply it judges to be the best fit.
The transcripts of all the conversations are saved and provided the dialogue is legal, these will be used to retrain Britbot periodically throughout the six months it is active online. This means Britbot’s questions and responses will gradually change from being based on books, articles and debates related to the citizenship test to being based on the opinions, knowledge and views of all the people it interacts with.
After the six months, the live version of Britbot will be removed from the web and a legacy website will be displayed in its place. The legacy website will show trends in the data as well as a diverse range of views displayed by individuals. Since we do not collect identifying data, any information displayed on the legacy website will be anonymous.
All of the input text will be collected into an anonymised database, which may be used for other academic research purposes such as publications, conferences and practice based research outputs. The artist Libby Heaney is a lecturer at the Royal College of Art and any subsequent research will adhere to their Research Ethics Policy.
We take your data security seriously. Britbot is a conversational chat system. There is no audio or video collected from the users. The transcripts or user input text is logged in a password secured database. This input text data is stored alongside user IP addresses and session ids. These identifying information columns allow us to make sure that the system is not being used maliciously. Heroku is used for site hosting, details are here: https://www.heroku.com/policy/security. Heroku can be deployed in several regions, this allows us to place the server and data storage in a specific geographic region if that is desirable. For more information, see here: https://devcenter.heroku.com/articles/regions. Britbot is located in the EU region on Heroku.
If you would like to withdraw your consent for your data to be used as outlined above please contact [email protected] with your IP address and the date you used the system. We will then permanently delete your information from our database.