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November 2018-January 2019

Language barrier won’t hold back chatbots in the Netherlands

An increasing number of Dutch organisations are using chatbots to get in contact with potential customers. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) play a part in the innovation, but economics is the main driver. One institution that has experimented with a chatbot is the Dutch police force. The organisation recently started work on a chatbot of its own, called Wout. The name is a play on words, being both a common Dutch first name as well as slang for police officers. Wout can receive common complaints from citizens about things such as noise disturbances, complaints that currently can only be reported by phone. After choosing from a set of possible predetermined situations, Wout asks users to give more details about their complaint. It asks questions like where the disturbance is or how many people are involved. Currently, Wout only asks its users closed questions, all of which are carefully mapped out into a decision tree by developers. In the future, the police service wants to make it possible for users to ask ...

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